Independence and Thoreau

I decided to go to the woods for one month and spend that time without engaging in virtual communication. I decided to go to the woods to read “The Walden”. I decided to go to the woods to reflect upon what is happening to me, what my life is about and what I am seeking out of it. I went to the woods because I felt lonely and I felt dependent of so many things.

The idea of thinking for one month about independency became tricky. I still haven’t searched for its definition in the dictionary but I suppose it says something like: “Capability of independency. To be free. To not be bound by unnecessary links. Self-sustainability. Self-governance.”

One friend told me once that there is only in-dependency, we are always in dependency. I laughed even though I hadn’t understand fully what he had just told me. I still cannot understand it, although I agree that there is never full independency. We need, we need perpetually. Our desires and our needs change constantly and are never met. Should then independence be a lack of desires and needs?

I started reading “The Walden” before I arrived at this cabin, it was inspiring to me how someone had decided to live in the woods for two years on his own. It was even more admirable the fact that he had built his own house, this still astounds me. Admirable decisions are made by courageous people, the kind of which true poets are made of. For poetry cannot be conceived without strength and desire to exceed the limits that society or knowledge or sympathy imposes.

Even when the centuries can be felt, the distance that keeps Henry David Thoreau from me; and not only the time but the gender and the social position. I am not a US man from the XIXth Century. I am a Mexican woman from the 21st Century. There are kilometres and years between the two of us. I know that all of my readings are merely a-chronological, but I never cared too much about academicism. I am here and if I truly believe in my notions of time and space, things only change form but the stay.

Again, I started reading Thoreau as an admiring act. An act that every student participates of whenever they intuit a teacher to have entered their lives. There he stood, standing still, upright, defiant. That is how I could understand a man that had decided to part from society to face life, as he says. I think I have not yet faced life and I am afraid of never doing so.

What is independence? I ask myself again and the answer escapes again. Is it a complete intellectual definition? I doubt that there is intellectual independency. For to be one you have to know what the others said before, we have to acknowledge their understandings. This is no independency in my opinion.

Is it then, the courage to feed yourself and to be self-sufficient? I think the answer walks around these arenas more easily. This is a task I have yet to conquer for I am dull and clumsy still. But above all, I think independence is mere braveness. The ability to stand for your own beliefs, to say this is me. This is me. Self-definition is hard since we have no clue of who we really are. We are all confused. There is too much noise around us. There is too much noise.

I repeat, I came here to dwell upon the thoughts that Thoreau had stated one century and a half ago. Without putting too much attention into his notions of purity and good Christianity which I am skeptical of, I am interested in his declarations about society. He says that there is no need for trains or communications if each of us stick to what we have intended to do, to live and study what we like. To live simple, to like silence, to understand that we are as lonely as all the grass in the world. This last thought is the one that moved me the most. We are as lonely as trees. True. But why is it so hard to endure? Why do I feel abandoned and desperate most of the time? How come trees don’t get panic attacks?

Understand that you are alone in the world, is written on the book. Understand that nothing lasts forever. Understand that there is nature all around. It is hard to understand. Is it that independence lays on the acceptance of these three “truths”? There is no loneliness, nothing lasts and there is nature everywhere if you look for it. That should help me. The idea is still on the books it is not yet in me. I think I am too young to understand such deep philosophical thoughts.

Now I want to explore what is it that makes people happy, how is that they gathered up courage to live? I could write a book about my fears. I could write a book about my dependencies but I cannot manage to write one page about what is it to be alone. Self-exploration is too tough.

Thoreau’s recipe would say the following: build your own house; wake up early; listen to the movements of the clouds; allow yourself to be wild; allow yourself to be pure; be yourself not what others tell you or expect you to be; don’t spend too much time talking; read philosophy but read it carefully; hunt when you are young, then stop; have but three chairs in your house; own the least furniture possible; work only when you need to; don’t waste time in stupidity; live without commitments to others; trust life; buy as few clothes as possible; don’t allow yourself to be misled; accept the seasons(winter, spring) as your friends; get lost in the woods at least once in your life. I think that’s it, Thoreau’s formula for independence.

Zen and strong people are all too defiant for me. But then again they say that no wisdom comes for free. You have to face your demons, you have to face reality in order to be awakened. I can assure you that I am still asleep, I cannot smell the others, I cannot laugh purely. I am a monument of self-containment.

What would I then be in spite of me? I would be a dancer, I would sing. I would ride horses into the wild.


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