We need to go back to walking; Thoreau tells us in this short lecture-essay that he drafted during his solitary excursions and was first published in 1862. Here, “walking” is not a question of “well-being” or consuming calories, but rather of venturing forth full of the spirit of adventure as if we were setting out on a voyage of no return. Only by moving away from social life and plunging into the wild can we cure the diseases of the soul by stirring up thoughts of hope and the future. Thoreau’s lecture awakens in us dormant perceptions, like the sudden and intermittent desire to run away or the temptation, during a walk in the woods, to climb to the top of a tree, even if just in our imagination. With these images, Thoreau encourages us to enter into harmony with nature and instead of being afraid of its “dark woods and solitary swamps”, to learn to appreciate its strength and beauty.
Henry David Thoreau
Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2019