Surfers as Modern Day Transcendentalists

by on February 13, 2023 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, Sports

Photo by Albert C Elliott

By Steve Anderson / Feb.

Nearly 200 years ago in the spring of 1845, Henry David Thoreau borrowed an ax and began collecting lumber for his cabin that he intended to build at Walden Pond. For about two years Thoreau lived at Walden Pond and practiced simple living.

He dedicated his life for a couple of years to learning to live off the land with as little as possible, rejecting any sort of luxurious living and argued that the comforts of life served as hindrances to the advancement of mankind.

It was here at Walden Pond where Thoreau wrote his most celebrated work “Walden Or, Life in the Woods.” Thoreau was a part of a much larger movement at the time known as transcendentalism and his contemporaries included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller and Walt Whitman.

Transcendentalism is the widely celebrated philosophical idea of embracing nature and opposing materialism. Many transcendentalists believed that one could find their spirituality in themselves and through nature, and humans had an inherently good nature but the pitfalls of society and its systems corrupted them. They were considered some of the first environmentalists; they held progressive views on feminism and were abolitionists.

Today, transcendentalist thought isn’t very widely known or accepted; however, I would argue that transcendentalism is alive and well. Much like how Thoreau rejected society’s constructs and decided to live off the land and appreciate nature, surfers are the largest group of people still implementing this style of living.

Whether they are aware of it or not, many surfers are living a life that Thoreau and Emerson intended.

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