--from the "Conclusion" to Walden
Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden
A few days ago, we started digging a pond in our back yard (see my blog: "cool pond"). That got me thinking about ponds and asking myself why people are drawn to water and what water teaches us. For Ben's entire life, he was drawn to water. He enjoyed boating as a boy. He joined the navy and was out at sea for months at a time, and tragically, he took his own life by the edge of the ocean.
Of course, the most famous "pond philosopher" is Henry David Thoreau. The Walden pond in Massachusetts inspired him to write about leading a simpler life.
In the chapter "The Ponds" of Walden, he wrote:
A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking
into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature."
Perhaps it is water's reflective nature that attracts us. We not only see ourselves in water, but we also see the nature of which we are a part. I wonder if there is a primal need to view ourselves as part of a greater picture. Nature certainly takes care of this for us, as we stare down into our reflection in a pond. We are connected to the sun, moon, clouds, trees, birds, and animals above and around us. I am not sure that feeling in the company of nature lets us feel less alone. Thoreau wrote about solitude in Walden and felt alone. But, perhaps, it teaches us about our responsibility as one part in a greater whole: to tread lightly on the Earth and respect it, as we would want to be respected.
Thoreau learned to accept his reflection. In his conclusion, he wrote, "However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names." My hope is that everyone who has gone through a difficult event in his or her life that has made him or her ashamed or taken away confidence, will remember this quote from Thoreau.
Do you have a thought on ponds? Please leave me a comment.