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Thoreau’s idea of being lost

December 5, 2013

“Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.”

I have this sentence highlighted in my version of Walden. Taken from the section “The Pond,” this struck me as incredibly beautiful and true. Today we are so interested in finding out the end or how something happened rather than allowing ourselves grow through experiences and time. Thoreau is talking primarily about walking in the woods and with nature, but I believe that this idea goes further than connecting with nature. Today, I think it’s safe to say that we are consumed by our electronics and the stress of college to get the grades and find a good job. It’s understandable, considering we are told at a young age that without a good background and grades to show you’ve excelled you won’t make it far in life. We tend to measure our happiness with wealth and success instead of ideas and experiences.

Of course, Thoreau himself was hypocritical in regards to his own ideas. I find it hard to think of someone who is able to completely be lost, and okay with that idea, with nature. And he wasn’t – Thoreau reentered society, took various jobs to keep himself afloat even when they weren’t contributing to his happiness, seemingly coming back to society to join the elite. Constantly questioning ourselves can be extremely tiring and troubling after a while. Yet, it’s necessary to take a step back or a step into the park and realize that there is so much mystery within the world and, in our lifetime, it is simply impossible to understand and comprehend everything that is around us. It’s hard for doctors, who train for almost a decade, to understand our own brain. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we aren’t supposed to understand everything around us. One of the beauties of life is the mystery that comes with it. Previous to the sentence I already pointed out, Thoreau wrote, “And not till we are completely lost, or turned round, — For a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost, — do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature.” Appreciate. Today, the appreciation for simplicity seems to have taken a seat in the back. The idea of the newest electronic or the newest materialistic items have taken precedence over the idea of taking a walk outside or playing in the park. Thoreau remarks quite a bit about being lost and being okay, even going as far as saying it is an awakening. If we simply took a period of time out of our days to take a walk outside or close our eyes and get “lost in the world” our need and desire to knowing information about everything would subside and the realization that mystery is beautiful could come to.

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