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Her Walden

She wanted to get back to the land. She wanted to know what it felt live to live free and one with nature. She thought humans had gotten too far away from the basics and had lost touch with what did and didn't matter. 

She'd recently graduated from the Environmental Studies program at her college. She was a smart student and loved to read. Thoreau was one of her favorites, and Walden changed her profoundly. She loved the reason he had taken to the woods: 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."


She wondered if the very rules of society she'd been taught were just handed down from the Industrial Revolution. Ideas of schools being in large brick buildings, and learning coming from books, and work being done Monday - Friday, 9-5. Why was everything so compartmentalized, she wondered? Why did a human day not go any like a deer's? Why not eat when you're hungry, bath in a river, and if you have to pee, pee? She wanted to see how her thinking of herself and the land would change if she lived within its rhythms and pace, rather than imposing her schedules and ideas onto it.


So she wrote all this up and proposed an independent study for the term. She took to the woods, and stripped off any clothes she didn't need, and wore clothing only if cold. She gathered food, but ate only when hungry. She swam in the river, and when she had to pee, she just did. She began to feel more and more return of sensations, moods, and urges. She felt her instinct growing more acute, as well as her hearing and sense of smell. She grew leaner, but stronger. Her eyes clear and her lungs filled with clean air. 


She knew, intellectually, that she would not be able to sustain this lifestyle more than a term. But, for a term, she did. And she found, as her hero Thoreau, that she had lived deliberately, and that would not die without having lived.
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