Shuffling along the dirt trail in my flip flops avoiding high grasses, low branches, and large rocks in my path I peek through the trees every few steps to look out over the glassy water below. With the sounds of delighted children splashing in the water and muffled radio beats on the beach behind me, I follow the faded wooden signs pointing me toward my destination. Up a narrow path in the middle of a clearing full of fallen needles, a small rectangle of tall stones marks the spot where Thoreau’s tiny cabin once stood overlooking Walden Pond. Just a 30-minute drive from Boston, Walden Pond provides a calm away from the urgency of city life and the hour-long walk around the water provided a necessary moment of reflection for me. As a writer, Thoreau’s two-year creative experiment living free of distractions in the woods makes me wonder about my own motivations to these same passions.
I moved to New York to fulfill my creative desires with the seed of a blog lingering in the deep recesses of my external hard drive. Three years later and still stuck in a career field I didn’t get to choose, I had halfheartedly created the blog idea from my mind but wasn’t motivated to update it regularly. Last year, I finally hit my do-or-die moment and seized the opportunity to attend a residency in upstate New York to flesh out my ideas. I re-branded my blog, found a new platform, and have been trying to catch up to posting on a weekly basis. While simultaneously craving the creative life, I constantly plant seeds of doubt; I worry if my career goals are accessible and wonder if my ideals are out of reach.
With thick woods to my right and deep water to my left, this is where self-doubt looms heaviest within the landscape of my mind. I continue walking past Thoreau’s minimal cabin spot getting farther away as I contemplate what stressors of life Thoreau was wrestling with when he decided to give it all up.
While acknowledging that answers don’t always come quickly, I use the remainder of my morning to think back on my whirlwind weekend in Massachusetts and just keep walking, letting ideas float where they may.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live! - Henry David Thoreau