The book Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau is an autobiographical account of two years and two months that the author spent first building and then living in a small isolated cabin in the midst of woodlands near the shore of Walden Pond in Massachusetts. For literary purposes, Thoreau condensed his experience into a single year and described the four distinct seasons that he encountered. Thoreau did not write the book to convince people to go live in nature. Even for him, the time that he spent at Walden Pond was in the nature of a literary experiment in which he wanted to stress not only a love of nature, but also the values of simplicity, spiritual values, meditation, and self-awareness. He succinctly explains his motivations in chapter 2:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
In the conclusion to Walden, Thoreau clarifies the experimental nature of his sojourn at Walden Pond. He had no plan or desire to live in the midst of nature permanently. He writes:
I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.
Also in the conclusion, Thoreau writes that he does not necessarily expect his readers to make any sort of physical change in their locations, but rather to search the inner landscape of the mind.
If you would learn to speak all tongues and conform to the customs of all nations, if you would travel farther than all travelers, be naturalized in all climes, and cause the Sphinx to dash her head against a stone, even obey the precept of the old philosopher, and Explore thyself. Herein are demanded the eye and the nerve.
Rather than make a change in environment, Thoreau urges his readers, no matter what state or location they are in, to be content.
Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the alms-house as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts from before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.