Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living Deliberately à la Walden Pond- a goodbye post

I have been trying to decide how best to end this blog. It's difficult to not be overly-sentimental about our time on the east coast. We made some amazing friendships, traveled and saw so many cool places, and we grew into a family of four. Personally, the four years changed me in a tremendous way. Without going into all the details of my own personal identity crisis, I will relate it to our visit to Walden Pond. We made a quick trip to Walden Pond last fall on our way home from Maine. I grew up somewhat enamored with the Transcendentalist Movement and most of the American literature I enjoy came from transcendentalist New England writers. Sure, there is plenty of controversy to their movement but I still find wisdom in some of the philosophy, specifically having a connection to nature and living deliberately.

I had to laugh when we got to Walden Pond because it is a huge tourist attraction today. It's certainly not the rugged wilderness that Thoreau wrote about. However, if you imagine it back in his time, before highways and cellphones, I am sure it was all "life in the woods." Who knows, from what I gather Thoreau was sort of a classic, for lack of a better word, bull-shitter. Regardless, the time he spent at Walden Pond and the memoir that resulted can be interpreted a number of ways. I think of it often whenever we are out hiking. When you are sitting alone in nature, life does have a way of appearing simpler. As we were walking the trails around Walden Pond, I wondered what Thoreau  might think now of the land that once inspired his guide to simple living. Today, Walden Pond is known as the birthplace of the conservation movement and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Yes, it's used for tourism and even has a gift shop, but the land is protected and his words will always remain an influence. I bet he'd be okay with it.

Relating this back to our time on the east coast is really quite simple. Moving away from the life I was comfortable with allowed me a chance to step back and figure some things out. I had time to develop interests and hobbies and began to feel interesting. Prior to our move, I devoted a lot of my time and self to worrying about a career. I didn't prioritize my marriage and spent so much of my time with friends talking about work. When I stopped working, I really struggled with being judged for staying at home with kids. Whenever we meet people, the first question asked is "what do you do?" What I have come to realize is that nobody really cares what we do for work. In fact, once you answer the question, the person asking the question is secretly hoping that you stop talking about your work. That said, I think it's great when people love their jobs. Someday when my kids are older, I hope to find the answer to "what do I want to be when I grow up." However, I think there is truth in living deliberately and in the moment. My definition of this might be different than Thoreau's, but here is how I see it: we should enjoy our lives and prioritize our marriages, families, and friendships above everything. Work should be a means for enjoying life, but not our whole identity. We should take time to get outside and play. We should plan day trips and appreciate where we live. All of these things make for a truly happy life. Our time on the east coast taught me that and I will be forever thankful.

Thanks to all of you who followed our blog while we were away. If it wasn't for you, I may not have dragged myself out of bed to go hike in 12 degree weather just so we'd have something to tell you about on the following Monday. It's been a fun adventure and I'm excited to see what's next for our crew as we settle back into the Pacific Northwest.