Thoreau earned his place in history and in The Ecology Hall of Fame on July 4, 1845, when he moved to Walden Pond, “to live deliberately.” Over the past century and a half, millions have read his musings on his life there and been inspired. That day defined his life. His time at Walden, slightly over two years, demonstrated the natural harmony that was possible when a thinking man went to live simply, reading books, writing in his diary, cultivating his beans, and walking in the woods. The message that comes through most clearly from the pages of Walden is that this is, itself, a “Hero’s journey.”
During his life, Thoreau was little known outside his small social and intellectual circle. Yet his reputation as a prophet for ecological thought and the value of wilderness, born at Walden, now grows with each passing year. He articulated the idea that humans are part of nature and that we function best, as individuals and societies, when we are conscious of that fact.
Daguerreotype of Thoreau, owned by The Thoreau Society. Used by permission.