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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it.
Thoreau spent two years in a cabin by himself near the Walden Pond in the woodland near Massachusetts. He lived simply and spent considerable amounts of his time reading and writing. He received guests regularly. He regarded his sojourn at Walden as an experiment to live a simple, agrarian lifestyle, away from the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution and, through nature, to sensitize his awareness of how one’s life is lived and how one might choose to live it more purposefully.