Thoreau on Nature in Walden

Henry David Thoreau is considered by many to be the environmental father of the green movement. As a teacher, scientist, historian, student, author, and naturalist, Thoreau has made a number of contributions to the ecological movement, his most significant including his own personal published reflections on conservation and his search for the meaning of life through the relationship he had with nature. His published works have “helped to launch the American environmental movement that continues to this day,” (Weiner, 30) and understanding Thoreau is key to conservation efforts today. Thoreau offers counsel and example exactly suited for our perilous moment in time: By studying Thoreau and putting his ideals into practice, we can overcome the challenges facing the modern environment.

Henry David Thoreau, disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson, sought isolation and nearness to nature. In his writings he suggests that all living things have rights that humans should recognize, implying that we have a responsibility to respect and care for nature rather than destroying it. Thoreau proclaims, “Every creature is better alive than dead, men moose and pine-trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it” (Neimark, 94).

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WILD: A Journey of Self Realization and Self Discovery

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At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mothers death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. Continue reading

Seeing ‘Wild’

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Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), the dissolution of her marriage and a headlong dive into self-destructive behavior, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) makes a decision to halt her downward spiral and put her life back together again. With no outdoors experience, a heavy backpack and little else to go on but her own will, Cheryl sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail — one of the country’s longest and toughest through-trails.

Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, the film opens with the climactic loss of a boot as it slips from Cheryl Strayed’s mountain top perch, which is immediately followed by a barrage of flashback memories and thoughts — bursting images of a fox, of a horse, of dictionary definitions, of her mother’s face. This opening serves as a framework to outline the story, attempting to afford the viewer with a general overview into the journey that is about to unfold. Continue reading