Walden Analysis: Self-Discovery

By What Means Does Henry David Thoreau Teach Us to Open to Self-Discovery?

walden analysis

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) was an established writer and philosopher. He taught us many things, but perhaps his most accomplished idea was that of self-discovery. Self-discovery is an idea rooted in knowing oneself and taking that and the simplicities for life you need go forward with your truth. Self-discovery is not only the path to your truth, but it is the way to become, perhaps, more comfortable with your life and its assets. 

Thoreau once said: “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw at it still. Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality, be not simply good, be good for something.” (PBS, 2010). This reinforces the idea that the path to your most personal truth, that of self-discovery, is not at all simple and yet it is also equally as simple as knowing you must go through this. The process itself, as described by the bones is not easy, it’s a whole thing that tears and rips into your bones; There always this room for improvement, there is always time to do the right thing, but in doing the right thing, you must not always do the right thing for yourself. If your moral compass points due north in the process of self-discovery you will never find who you are. Sometimes, the bad needs to intersect the good in order to find the answer there.

Thoreau also once said: “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.” (PBS, 2010). Thoreau used himself as an example of pleading others to please discover life before it is gone and taken from you. Do not discover your truth after your life has come to an end or ended; There is much that nature, the world and those around you have to teach you if you simply allow your soil all the nutrients of their experience. Cultivating plants from soil takes much work and attention as well does the process of self-discovery, finding that the universe has to teach you before you die, your most personal truth, and of course, what it truly means to be alive; The simplicity of it all.

He teaches us in an informal way to let go and explore, in being not too moral, but be sound and respectful of the things you are learning from as you are the student and it is the master; But, a master and a student that must coexist together.

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