Thoreau’s “Walking”

In the chapter “Time and Place,” Tuan explains that “attachment, whether to a person or to a locality, is seldom acquired in passing” (184). He says that because people acquire “attachment to place as a function of time,” it only makes sense that we should develop a connection to our surroundings once we have spent time their, and developed a relationship with the space that has witnessed our experiences. A teacher of mine from high school once said that spirituality is the feeling of connectedness within an environment. I find this quote to be particularly applicable for this week’s reading because Thoreau discusses walking through a forest for the sake of spirituality. In this reading, it is almost as though Thoreau is arguing with Tuan. He says that when walking through nature, “the landscape is not owned and the walker enjoys comparative freedom” (Thoreau 267). Thoreau brings it to our attention that “while almost all men feel an attraction drawing them to society, few are attracted strongly to Nature” (284). This is because of Tuan’s point that in order to develop a connection to a space (and turning it into place), people need to have spent time there and had experiences there. For most, this is easiest to do within a society. Societies are familiar to us, we easily recognize our roles in society, and our experiences come more easily because they involve others. Thoreau says though, that only once “you are a free man, then you’re ready to walk.” One needs to have his mind clear of worries and distractions before he is able to walk through nature and get what Thoreau believes to be the appropriate reaction. While Tuan says connections to places are seldom through passing, Thoreau says that one should feel a connection while passing through nature, and this isn’t something that should be taken for granted. However, while I agree with Thoreau, I believe that what Tuan describes as normal is more common because it’s easier. It does not as readily provoke profound thought or self reflection as strolls through nature often do. It is also very difficult to rid oneself of the troubles that worry one’s mind. So while Thoreau says that his is the way we should connect to nature, it is far more easily said than done, and hence most of us give way to Tuan’s reasoning that we must develop a relationship to our spaces over longer periods of time.

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Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 8:50 am Comments (0)

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