I must live about all in the present. My first thoughts are azure; there is a bloom and a dew on them; they are papillary-feeders which I put out, tender, innocent.
….Henry David Thoreau
our visions of simplicity and innocence remind us that we can inspire and be inspired by and with the same hand of the pulsating world around us…..we know the transparency of breath and sky…..
One might well object, that Thoreau’s paradisal vision is so fundamentally solitary and personal that it lacks value and meaning for the larger community. Or that its ascetic character is simply too severe. However, I think that it is possible to understand his vision of an innocent and simple life, a life free of anxiety, differently- as leading to a way of living that is open and responsive to the larger whole. Much like the early Christian monks, for whom anachoresis became part of a critical response to an acute social crisis, Thoreau understood his experiment at Walden Pond not simply as a personal gesture but as an effort to think through and work out in practice a different, and more sustainable way for society as whole to live. His profound examination of the sources of care and anxiety that prevent us from seeing and living in the world in innocence and simplicity was at the heart of this project. And like the monks before him, his alternative vision of the self in the world undercut many of the prevailing assumptions of what it meant to live in the world with meaning and purpose. This is a truly contemplative practice that seeks, through a steady relinquishment of attachment to things and of the anxiety that such attachment breeds, to discover what it means to live openly and responsively to the gift of the world…..Douglas E. Christie
I want to see if the light is really burning. I want to see the Lombardy poplars and apple trees and the posts supporting the woven-wire fence around the house where I lived in that boyhood, I want to see if they are glowing in the luminous world. I want things to be radiant and permeable. I want to be welcome inside these memories if nowhere else, and I think I was welcome as a child. I want the child who thought about the world and understood that he was welcome to have been correct. I want to have had that; I want the world to be that good….William Kittredge