Whatever happened to Road to Walden?
When I decided to let go of Road to Walden as the title of this blog, it was not because I thought the search had ended. I will always be on that road, which is the road to the home within, while also aware that that destination is right here, right now, on this road.
I decided to change the title because apart from the many wonderful things that Thoreau’s Walden represents to me, it also represents a notion which I am leaving behind at this stage in my life: the notion that the quest for happiness (= home) is about finding out how little you need to be content with. I still agree that happiness isn’t in „stuff“, and yes, it is true that so much of what we do in order to afford a lifestyle we think is necessary to make us happy leads us to the exact opposite („lives of quiet desperation“ anyone?).
Yet at this point I feel the question of how little I can live with isn’t all that interesting to me anymore, even though some part of my mind is still playing that game („Will I run out of money on this trip before I can access new sources of steady income?“ is one of those classics on repeat in my head some days). The way I see it now, the two don’t have to be connected, although my brain is still pretty wired that way. I am not interested in tying finical wealth and worldly possessions to judgement anymore. It’s possible to have very little „stuff“ and money and be happy. It’s possible to have very little and be unhappy. It’s possible to have a lot and be happy, and it’s possible to have a lot and be unhappy. At this point I feel like an experiment on how little it takes for one to be happy is not really the interesting question.
I know that might sound strange because it is exactly what I am living right now, not owning more than I can fit into my backpack, proving to myself everyday that yes, it’s very possible to be happy with very little stuff (and yes, some days: not so happy, for all kinds of reasons). As always, it’s the intention behind it that counts. I do believe that while it’s true, happiness isn’t in material objects, rejecting them for that reason is not changing the game – you’re just playing on the other team. Chasing wealth and objects just for the sake of it is just as uninteresting to me as it is rejecting them just because you know they won’t make you happy. Because guess what: joyless asceticism isn’t the road to happiness, either. I imagine that if you feel empowered by experiencing how little you can make do with, then that can be a joyful and thus valuable experience, and that is definitely part of this journey, too.
At this point however I am most interested in the notion of non-attachment. I am interested in enjoying all that life has to offer, including material wealth, without making it my golden calf. I know that is something very „now“ (The Secret/the Law of Attraction), and that just really wasn’t on the menu for Thoreau*. It felt like Road to Walden wasn’t really including this aspect which has become a focus for me in all areas of my life.
The idea to change the title to www.sarineturhede.com was triggered by the process of revamping the site overall in order to showcase my work better but the actual reason behind it was that I wanted to mark for myself that this is my path now, the one that’s still inspired by others but where I am the pioneer after all.
* Although who knows – he only lived at Walden Pond for about a year and not his whole life, so I maybe the question of how little you could live with wasn’t a lifelong quest for Thoreau, either …