I do not go to Walden for solitude.
I always go alone, and I often feel alone despite being surrounded by people from all corners of the pond.
I watch lovers stand and swim, splash each other and exchange glances and an intimate embrace. I pass couples and families walking along the trail, some quiet, others deep in conversation.
Sometimes, I feel lonely. Most often, I feel a sense of relief.
I have left the sounds of sirens in Lowell.
I am among trees, rocks, lichen, birds, and insects.
And I am not alone. There are others who have chosen to spend a few precious moments of their day in a sacred place outside the fully developed, human realm.
Walden is not a wilderness area; it has long been touched, poked, prodded by the hands of many men and women. Thoreau himself did not tread lightly on this land.
I have been privileged to live and walk in wild places where mine was the only human soul to be found for miles.
In Massachusetts, I do not expect to find such wilderness.
In Massachusetts, there is still wildness. Much of that wildness may be in my soul, but I have also found it in the places I visit that are outside the human realm I inhabit during most of my waking moments.
I go to Walden to restore and reconnect with my own inner wildness.
I go because I feel a kindred connection with the water and the trees that create a green, protective circle around the shore.
I go to watch water striders moving across the surface with delicate, scissor strides.
I do not go to escape or to “get my mind off of things.”
I go to travel deeper into myself, to feel how my body moves in another world, and to listen to the thoughts that rise in my mind as my arms and legs dance and propel my body through the water.
A friend recently mentioned to me that there are plenty of better lakes in eastern Massachusetts that I might visit for a swim where there are fewer people and more solitude.
Perhaps, I might visit one of these days.