November 25, 2020

"... and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not 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."  - Henry David Thoreau, from his book, Walden; or, Life in the Woods

Daytime Fireworks

My 1.5 hours spent yesterday at Walden Pond pales in comparison with the two years Thoreau spent living there writing the journals he later distilled into a book.  However, in my own way I strive to emulate Thoreau and go the woods to "...front only the essential facts of life."

Pining for Life

Sometimes I have a camera with me when exploring the natural world.  Taking pictures brings me into the moment of living and helps me to "...see if I could not learn what it (the woods) had to teach..."

Impression of Woods
With these first three images, I used a Nikon D200 DSLR camera which allowed me to control the look of the explorations, whether layering frames via in-camera multiple-exposures, adjusting the aperture to control depth of field, or choosing a slow shutter speed and then swiping my camera through the air during the exposure.  The following images were captured with an iPhone.

Thoreau with a Replica of his Cabin - The Original Tiny House

Using a fully featured digital camera (DSLR) contrasts sharply with snapping iPhone shots.  There are pros and cons.  On the plus side, the DSLR allows for the control and variation demonstrated above.  However, the camera is bulky.  It does not fit in your pocket.

The iPhone rests in my pocket, ready in seconds to capture fleeting moments.  Nothing to adjust.  It is easy to hold in one hand while taking pictures.  I love to touch history and an iPhone easily allows for this process.

That Way

To live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. This catch phrase from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen Covey often finds its place in my morning goals.

Following Thoreau's breadcrumbs to Walden Pond on a digitally mediated visit helped me define to live. "... and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."  I want to live.

John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at  Instagram: @john.nordell