My teacher just returned our annotated copies of Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau yesterday. I loved that book and want to think about it again. And I want you to think about it too.
I love the motif of new beginnings and regeneration he presents in the book. I find my most richly annotated passages to be the ones in which he speaks of every morning being a new beginning (and at some point he says that every moment is a new one). Those passages hit me especially deeply.
When I began reading Walden, I had just returned home from a trip to Maui with my friend and her parents. In Maui I had discovered that I love the relaxed lifestyle of the people who live there (but also discovered that I cannot handle heat above 85 degrees!). I felt so at peace with myself by the ocean and wanted that inner peace to continue in my every day life. It was great, then, that our next assignment in my junior English class was to read Walden.
The passages were difficult to read, especially since Thoreau never ONCE decided to stay on topic, but I found that if I took my time (each 15 page avg. chapter ended up taking me about an hour to read…), I could really absorb what he was trying to tell me. There are a few chapters that I still don’t understand, and possibly never will. But I think that just adds to the book’s truthfulness in life. There are certain parts of life that I really just will not understand, but if I experience them, try to figure them out, and then move on, I think I’ll do just fine. My favorite line was at the very end of the book. After chipping away at the assigned chapters, I was both relieved and saddened to finish. But I’m so glad that Thoreau saved the best, and most hopeful, until last:
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
Whether I got the most important message of the book or not, I will always take away that dawn and new beginnings don’t just happen in the mornings. Beginnings happen any time, at any moment. Its totally up to you to make your life what you want it to be.
I feel like a different person for reading this. I feel enlightened, changed, excited, and hungry for fulfillment. Even since finishing the book two months ago, I can feel myself slipping from who I was when I read it. I think I might have to read its most important parts over and over and over to remind myself how much life is worth. And that’s totally OK with me.