Walking For The Spirit And Soul

1526 words - 6 pages

In a society where many people are commonly overwhelmed with worries and issues concerning home and work life, the idea of walking is often an afterthought for most people. In fact, several people try to avoid any extra, unnecessary walking or when they do walk, it is on a treadmill in his or her gym or basement. In 1862, Henry Thoreau wrote an article about the importance of walking; this article, or as it is commonly referred to as essay, holds the title of “Walking”. “Walking” is not just simply a lecture that people should walk for their health; this essay is mainly based on the idea of walking as a form of meditation. “Walking” was written with strong emotion and passion by Thoreau. Ideas from this essay can be tied in with Emerson’s essay “Nature”. Thoreau explains that his method of walking is not as simple as it sounds; in addition to that, some of the ideas can also be tied in with Buddhism walking meditation. This essay truly shows that Thoreau appreciated nature for what it was, which is the transcendentalist way.
To begin, in Thoreau’s lifetime, the main modes of transportation were either walking or by horse. Thoreau strongly believed in walking and how it could work as meditation. Within the essay, he does not just refer to walking as walking but as an art form called sauntering (“Walking” 260). Both actions are very similar but the difference is great; sauntering is more of an act of dawdling or strolling without a care (“Saunter”). He explains that for a person to truly have a great walk or saunter and understand the art of walking, that person must lose all of his or her forebrain thoughts and cares. Evidence of this can be interpreted from the quote, “[I]f you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk” (“Walking” 260). In addition to that, Thoreau states in Walden that “for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost. . . . Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes” (“The Village” 118). Taking both works, Thoreau leaves the audience a message that every person needs to lose his or her conscious thought and stroll through nature.
From Thoreau’s “Walking”, ideas of Emerson’s essay “Nature” can start to become evident; Emerson states, “Nature never wears a mean appearance” (“Nature” 1708), meaning that all of nature is perfect. This idea is commonly believed among the transcendentalists but will be discussed later in the essay. Although Thoreau does not outright say that nature is perfect, it can be concluded by his idea that only nature is suitable for a walk; Thoreau states, “Roads are made for horses and men of business. . . I walk out into a Nature such as the old prophets” (“Walking” 265), meaning that a truly meaningful walk is done in nature and not a town. A possible, more apparent reference to Emerson would be when Thoreau asks, “Where is the literature which gives...

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