How Thoreau’s “Walden” Inspires Our Own Life Purpose In Uncertain Times
“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.” ~Walden
Thoreau was doing more than simplifying his life when he went to live alone near Walden Pond. His desire was to experience life without distraction, to feel it with a mindfulness that allowed him to know each moment for its own sake. His attention was taken up with watching the landscape and its inhabitants, the creatures of the woods and water, and by the mundane tasks of each day. There was no past or future, but instead only a living in the present. What he discovered and wrote down stills holds us in its power–that there is a life purpose for our sojourn on this earth. We are meant to use the energy of our unique self to express our gifts out into the world now, not later. Like Thoreau, we are meant to serve in this way–and with each effort we make that is in alignment with the “essential facts of life,” we discover that we have lived.
There are clear signs–and familiar ones–when we are not in such alignment, usually appearing as dissatisfaction and escape into distraction and procrastination. If we stay too far from our life purpose and for too long, we can feel dis-ease and depression. Often we wait for someone to show us what it is, to tell us what it is, even to give it to us by some magical process.
But here’s the thing–we already know our life purpose, deep within. Spending time alone in the silence of the woods, watching the snow fall on the bare branches of trees, thinking of nothing else, the answer comes to us. Anywhere we allow ourselves to be alone and allow the quiet time, even for only a little while, the answer to the question begins to show itself, to rise up from that deep place. It has been waiting for us to ask.