Remember how you told me the other day about our cousin Sam’s comments during your walk in the woods? How she loved to be “one with nature” and how it made you want to barf? Well, maybe her words and actions don’t always line up, considering she always just wants to take a picture for Instagram and get out of whatever “nature” she’s experiencing, but I DID want to try to help you understand what she meant by her statements. It’s not something to be scoffed at. Nature, I mean. When “becoming one with nature” is done right, it does a lot of good.
You might have heard of “Romanticism.” It was in full-swing in the early 1800s. Basically, during this time, people focused on being individuals, having new ideas, feeling strong emotions (of all kinds), reminiscing about the past, and loving nature. In my mind, it was a beautiful time of collective vulnerability. In 1854, a man named Henry David Thoreau published a book called “Walden.” It is about his life living in the woods by himself. He spend two years living in cabin near Walden Pond. Here’s what he said about why he did it:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…”
Imagine the simplicity of simply walking to the shore of Bear Lake, taking a deep breath, and running into the water - without worrying about the perfect moment to snap a picture with your GoPro, without simultaneously composing in your mind the most hilarious combination of emojis and cutesy hashtags that will accompany it as its Instagram caption, without worrying about the time of day at which you will need to post said-picture in order to secure the minimum 300-“like”-standard. IMAGINE IT. It’s been argued that Thoreau’s main theme was SIMPLICITY. For two years, he relied on only himself for validation. He saw FOR himself. I emphasize “for” because he did not see things for the sake of sharing them with others. Rather, he learned that self-reliance is beautiful and living simply is the key to happiness.
We talk so much about how taking pictures tends to ruin moments. We talk about simply learning to live in the moment and learning from what’s around us. Please just consider the lessons learned from my new BFF
Henry David Thoreau, and let nature envelop you. Not just the nature to be found on the Bell Canyon hike we so often do, but the “nature” that exists in our own home, on campus, at church. In short, “romanticize” your world. Let your world become your dream. Don’t take a picture. Live it. Let what you live stay YOURS. It won’t all be pretty, but then again, Romanticism wasn’t about the “pretty.” It was, as Thorough said, about being “forever on the alert” and “looking always at what is to be seen.” In short: don’t follow Sam’s example, but her words are spot-on.