Alone with Nature

As I delve into Thoreau, I can’t help but second-guess his insistence on being alone with nature.  Yes, connecting with nature allows you, as an individual, time to learn things about yourself, but we learn a lot about ourselves by interacting with people, too. 

Maybe this is because I am a people-person (I prefer to be surrounded by people than to sit at home alone), or maybe it is because I realize that I would never be able to truly know myself without the interactions from others.  By this social interaction, especially as children, we learn concepts like patience and what it means to be loved. 

Living alone in the wilderness does not give us those necessary understandings.

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3 responses to “Alone with Nature

  1. I’m a people-person too, but I still enjoy spending time out in nature. I don’t think Thoreau necessarily only liked to spend time in nature, I just think it was a very large part of his life. He writes about getting away from the craziness of the village, which means he did spend time with other people. I think there can be a good balance between spending time with others and spending time in nature. Heck, you can even spend time with people in nature! You don’t have to be by yourself out in nature to get something out of it; I love going on walks or on vacation in the mountains with my fiancé.

  2. Obviously Thoreau got many of his ideas from reading Nature as they both agree on how people should be alone with nature. I don’t think that he means all the time or for the rest of our lives, but at least once just try and spend that personal alone time with nature too. Perhaps it will open up our minds to a whole different world! I’ve been guilty of still taking my phone with me on camping trips, but one of these times I will have to have a technology free trip and see how much of a difference that makes. Besides, how will we look up from our phones to see all the stars if we aren’t looking!

  3. What I think bugs you is that there aren’t relationships to be had in loneliness. Norman Wirzba advocates the importance of relationships with others to form communities and even to form our individual selves. Obviously, we wouldn’t be the person that we are today if it weren’t for the relationships that we have. We cannot individualize ourselves without having others to compare to. Thoreau, and McCandless, we out into nature by themselves to get a sense of the world. Sure, they were lonely, but they were not alone. Nature is a living entity as well, one in which we have an intrinsic relationship with. Therefore, what I think Thoreau was trying to say was that his relationship to nature was more important than relationship with people at the time. Even though I love the people around me, there is something about being in nature that is somewhat relational; I feel a spiritual and physical connection with the land beneath my feet and the sun above my head. I think Thoreau felt that as well, but just wrote about his experience in a more poetic way.

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