Why did Thoreau live on the shore of Walden Pond, and why did he write Walden?

Thoreau lived on the shore of Walden Pond in order to enjoy a life of “simplicity.” He believed that people often became slaves to the things they own, so he sought to own less and spend more of his time enjoying himself rather than working to pay for material things. He wrote Walden in order to share this experience with others.

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Thoreau saw what he felt was a sort of terrible tragedy being played out in the lives of most people. Society encourages people to buy large houses, houses they do not need. Then, those people must work much more than would be necessary if they had simply bought a small home and fewer material objects. Society encourages people to keep up with the latest fashions, and this costs money: money that the average person must work harder to earn. And, for what? Only to have these things?

Thoreau felt it would be better for people to “simplify” their lives, to own less so that they can enjoy more. If one buys a small house, keeping only the necessities, then one can work fewer hours in the day and spend more of one’s hours doing whatever one enjoys: reading, writing, walking, swimming, exploring, and so on. To that end, he writes,

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation …. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work.

Thoreau claims that we have resigned ourselves to the rat race—to the constant need to acquire, to own more—and that we can simply choose to opt out, so to speak, of these values.

So, he moved to the woods at Walden Pond to practice what he preached. He built a ten-by-fifteen-foot cabin with only a bed, a desk, and a chair or two, and he kept a garden to grow much of his food. He lived there for two years, two months, and two days, and he later wrote Walden because so many people inquired about his experiences.

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Thoreau lived on the shore of Walden Pond because he wanted to try living simply as a sort of experiment. He felt that most people lead very unhappy lives due to societal pressures to do too much and live too expensively. Everyone works hard to acquire money, success, and luxuries, but none of these things make them happy. Materialism and the societal rat race only lead to an empty and stressful life consumed by "details," as Thoreau famously puts it, one wasted in the pursuit of a kind of wealth and prestige that cannot be taken with you after death. Noticing this, Thoreau decided to live as simply as possible: he set up a small cabin with a minimal amount of furniture and grew his own food in a garden.

By "living deliberately" like this for a little over two years, Thoreau worked less and had more time to do the things he enjoyed, like reading and writing. By retreating from society's influence, he was able to live more fully and realize what matters in the long run. He wrote the book Walden in order to share his experiences and insights with other people who were curious about what he was trying to do.

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Thoreau moved to the woods of Walden Pond to learn to live deliberately. He desired to learn what life had to teach him. He moved to the woods to experience a purposeful life. He did not want to have lived his whole life and not truly have lived:

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.

While living in the woods, Thoreau desired to simplify his life. He claims that too many people's lives are "frittered away by details." No doubt, Thoreau enjoyed his simplistic life, claiming that all men need to simplify their lives:

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.

Specifically, Thoreau did learn that one meal a day would suffice. He learned that a few plates are better than "a hundred dishes." Simple living is the key to a fulfilled life.

Thoreau wrote Walden to share his experiences gained while living in the woods. He desired to help others understand that a simplified life is a meaningful life. No doubt, he learned to live intentionally while keeping a record for posterity. He wrote a detailed account:

Walden (1854), is an eloquent account of his experiment in near-solitary living in close harmony with nature; it is also an expression of his transcendentalist philosophy.

At the very heart of Walden is one man's ability to move away from materialistic living and experience living off the natural land. Today, we have his masterpiece which gives us a idealistic view of living life in a simple manner:

In solitude, simplicity, and living close to nature, Thoreau had found what he believed to be a better life.

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