This week we turned our attention towards the Transcendentalism. Heavily influenced by English and German Romanticism, Transcendentalism was a literary, intellectual, philosophical avant-garde movement during early nineteenth century America.
Transcendentalists believe that humans are their best when we are `self-reliant’ and independent. Like the Romantics, there is also an emphasis on intuition. While focusing on the individual, Transcendentalists also believe that all humans are connected. We are One.
`Walden; or Life in the Woods’, written by Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau explores the notion of simple living in natural surroundings. Published in 1854 after two years of living in a small cabin in the woods, `Walden’ can be seen as a manual for self reliance and a guide to promoting human spirituality.
163 years after it was first published, ‘Walden’ is more relevant than ever. I was born and raised in a consumerist world and I tho the ability to buy whatever I wanted, when I wanted. In my childhood I had toys, an Atari, a swimming pool in the backyard, a bike, my own TV, and a wardrobe full of clothes and lots of records. Growing up in a consumer culture has its obvious advantages—technology is everywhere, restaurants are on every corner and supermarkets are open 24 hours. All of this leads to the impression that everything is available all of the time, and for the most part it is. I lived the life of consumerist until the age of 28, when a trip to India changed my life. I realised that I had all I need to live a happy and simple life. As long as I had a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes on my back, I didn’t really need anything else. I don’t need all the excess `stuff’. Materialism was crushing my soul. I began to de-clutter my life.
Now I take delight in the simple things life has to offer. I connect with the earth by walking barefoot. I like to lie in the grass, look up at the sky and allow myself to feel small in the enormous universe. I walk my street and look at the trees and listen to the sounds of the birds. Of course I still `want’ things. But my tastes have change as have my wants. I talk all the time of buying a small block of land, away from the city and build a tiny house. I want to distance myself from society, to think and live freely, away from the white noise of the city. Surround myself with quiet air and still mornings. Sit on my veranda, with a cold beer and watch the sun go down. With a handful of cats and dogs at my feet. As I get older, I’m designing the life I want. I’m finding my place in the sun and taking some time in the still.