Walden Pond: Getting Back to Nature

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

A mere twenty minute drive from campus in the historic Boston suburb of Concord, Massachusetts is the secluded natural retreat known as Walden Pond. On a recent sunny weekend afternoon, a group of us packed up our cases, grabbed some sandwiches and bottled water and went to check out what this nature preserve has to offer.

The park is located on 200 acres of woodland, and the hiking trails throughout provide visitors with an opportunity to take a short stroll through the trees. The pond itself is suitable for swimming though will soon be getting chilly. Real naturalists will enjoy learning about how the pond is really a “kettle hole” that was formed by slow moving glaciers 10,000 years ago.

The beauty of Walden Pond provided inspiration for the writings and musings of Henry David Thoreau, a renowned nineteenth century American author, pacifist, and philosopher. Thoreau spent two years living in a one room house on the secluded shores of the pond, and his resulting book, Walden, has provided inspiration for nature lovers and has since become a favorite in high school literature classes.

Similarly inspired by his musings, we began to wonder what Thoreau’s experience at HBS might have been like – what would he have thought about the perfectly manicured lawns? The high ceilings and hard wood floors in Spangler? And the sushi chef in the cafeteria? Let us take you inside the mind of this 19th century transcendentalist and imagine what he might have sagely observed about life on campus:

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment.
Thoreau on interviewing during the Boston winter

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.
Why Thoreau’s application essay didn’t make the cut at HBS

I stand in awe of my body.
Thoreau on why we need more mirrors in Shad

I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”
Thoreau on your section officer elections

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
Thoreau on why there was really no need to run numbers for the cranberry case (plus no one gets it right the first time anyway!)

The man who goes out alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.
Thoreau on taking part in treks with 100 of your closest friends and classmates

I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
Thoreau on Priscilla Ball (but don’t let him stop you from going)

September 26, 2005
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