"Where I Lied, and What I Lived For" is part of Henry David Thoreau's great document of Transcendentalism, Walden. It is Thoreau's attempt to present to a Western audience Eastern values, such as simplicity, mindfulness, detachment from materialism, and living in the present moment.
Thoreau bought property out in the country where he could be "retired" from the trivialities with what people fill their lives. He feels that his move is a conquest of being, for he is "free and uncommitted." His little frame abode is little protection from the cold, but Thoreau observes positively, "the atmosphere within had lost none of its freshness." Because it is near a pond, Thoreau enjoys fishing and bird watching.
Each morning, Thoreau declares, he enjoys the view of the horizon and the simplicity of life, an "innocence with Nature herself." He perceives morning as a time or renewal.
Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night....we are...awakened by our Genius....
In the woods Thoreau feels free from the complications of mail, free from anything but the "essential facts of life." He embraces simplicity of life and an "elevation of purpose." Thoreau exhorts people to not waste life and be in a hurry. In addition, they need to discard any delusions that they hold.
When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence.
There is no place for pettiness. Thoreau urges men to look to children for a certain wisdom:
Children, who play life,discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it.
Further, Thoreau urges everyone to "spend one day as deliberately as Nature," unconcerned with traditions or delusions, but only facing reality. In his writing of "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," then, Thoreau expresses the Transcendental precept of the ability of man to elevate himself through conscious endeavor.