My Own Walden Pond This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Stepping off the bus at Walden Pond a cacophony of teenage gossip of instantly came to a halt as we congregated in the freezing parking lot beside the pond. A shiver slithered down my spine. Instantly my hands felt raw from the cold. As I neared the edge of the pond, the surrounding urbanization of Massachusetts was closed out. I walked around the pond, careful not to step too close to the water’s edge in fear that the glassy surface would shatter at my very touch. When I first looked at the pond, it seemed ordinary. I had been to ponds before, and this one seemed to be as cold and secluded as the next one. As I continued walking, I realized that Walden Pond changed color and form as light struck it. The water could appear clear as the Caribbean or murky and black like Lochness. Although the day was cloudless, the light penetrated the surface of the water at different angles, creating altogether foreign environments depending on where I stood on the shore. The water also seemed to change depending on my mood at any given moment. Perception is the key to Walden Pond; one’s insight of how they read the pond can change on a regular basis.


When I first sat down at the water’s edge, the surface was clear, and I could see the mud at the bottom, appearing solid and not having been touched for centuries. As I began to write my observations, the water grew turbulent and obfuscated, reflecting my convoluted thoughts. Walden Pond is a place to escape, to be alone, without feeling lonely or unaccompanied; it gives one a sense of release and the ability to forget everything about in their lives, and focus on the liberality of nature. The sense of release came from being in a place where I didn’t have to be involved in the chaos of society, and I could be alone without anyone else interrupting my thoughts. The water reflected the sky, and the clouds that appeared to be etched into the surface of the pond seemed to have the ability to clutter the surface or completely disappear under the façade of the pond.


Stepping onto the pond I felt a sense of release as I was separated from the hectic environment on the bus and the metropolitan feel of Boston. The pond was the polar opposite of the rest of my day and gave me a sense of calm as I began to observe the area around me. I couldn’t help but think as I wandered around the pond, that it reminded me of my Sunday afternoons. Almost every Sunday I take a walk around the West Side of Manhattan, listening to music, and ignoring the world around me. New Yorkers rushing past me on their way to get their morning coffee or tourists stopping to take pictures could never interrupt the motivation I feel to walk uptown from 61st and Central Park West to the end of eternity. Nothing could disrupt the comfortable space I have created around me in which the smells and the noises of the city that somehow sneak past the headphones in my ears. The West Side is my Walden Pond.


The music I listen to as I walk is the light reflecting across the surface of the pond; influencing and influenced by my mood. On days when I have unlimited energy, I listen to upbeat music for energy and confidence. Putting on my headphones and blasting anything from Madonna to The Strokes gives me that extra boost of energy putting a bounce in my step as I saunter around the west side. On days when I am tired or upset, the soothing sound of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” fits the bill. My “walk” changes depending on my music; rock puts the sturdiness of cement in each step I take, while classical makes each foot placed on the sidewalk as buoyant as a child’s pool toy that won’t sink underwater. I walk to relax, to escape, and to be free from the chaos of my apartment with my brother singing, my dad’s blender screaming as he dumps fruit onto the spinning blades, and my mother talking on the phone nonstop. I build my walking soundtrack as Thoreau built his poems. Like Thoreau, I remove myself from society and let my thoughts run free. For what can be anywhere from fifteen minutes to 3 hours; I am alone in the city that makes me feel at home. Although I am walking through the noisy streets of New York and not rural Massachusetts, I eliminate my surroundings and find myself alone in the middle of the city.


Wandering around Walden Pond, I don’t need my iPod. I felt the same sort of release at the pond that I feel walking around the west side; that I was separated from everything and everyone around me. I could adapt to my surroundings and felt on top of the world, because nobody could interrupt the time I had alone with my thoughts. The soundtrack to the pond –bird songs and paddles dipping into the water– fit my mood perfectly. It matched my feeling of calm, and the feeling of being alone, yet completely surrounded by nature.





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janarigirl said...
Aug. 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm
This piece evokes a beautiful image of a sanctuary in a chaotic and often hard to manage city.  How beautiful to evoke Thoreau and Walden and to bring that sense of nature and serenity to Manhattan.  Really a sensitive and visual piece of writing.  Thank you for sharing it
 
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