Transcendentalism: Six Syllables

Back again. It’s been so long Internet/loyal reader. Thanks for remembering me enough to care about my rants and skim over them.


Ocean Landscape

I remember hearing someone today talking about how their high school English teacher used to speak on and on about Transcendentalists, how the teacher seemed to have a crush on almost every single Transcendentalist author out there (mainly Thoreau, Emerson, and anyone required to be read by the education standards), and how they never really got Transcendentalism.

“Wasn’t it just some other movement or some sort, like Romanticism?” the person in question continued, “And don’t even get me started on the Hawthorne crush…”

That really got me thinking, more than how much I have to try to remember to reduce, reuse, recycle, or the brainpower I draw on to look for the pencil perched on my ear. Which is a lot, for both things, sadly.

Back to the point: that got me thinking. Hard. I remember when my teacher talked about Transcendentalist utopias, the connection to wilderness and nature, spirituality, yada, yada, yada, but I never really applied it. Or even really thought about it much, besides to snidely remark that they were the origins of the hippie era.

Sorry to all hippies out there BTW for my tone. That was then. I respect everyone now.

So what exactly is a Transcendentalist?


If I remember, it was kind of hard to explain in the class. Transcendentalism had to do with nature, spirituality (both mentioned above), and getting away from “the evils of society”. Or something along those lines.

Now, as I look back, I wonder…

Society is a burden, at many times, I observe. Today, labels are on everything, from canned foods to people to signs. Too many artificial barriers have been raised to slow people down. What are we working for, anyway? When we pass on, none of our accomplishments would mean anything to us anymore. Yeah, we could’ve made some life-saving contribution to society, or we left for our future generations a legacy, material wealth, etc., but soon they’ll pass this on as well. So why do we build these towers so high? What’s up there to reach?

Check. Question society. Society harms the individual.

(And BTW there was a little giveaway in that long paragraph about the Bridge Builder, which I will probably be rewriting soon. Stay tuned.)


Nature is… cool. When you get out there, nature is there to accept you. No one to judge you. No one to worry you about anything you don’t need. Just you and nature. But this is what I like- nature can’t judge you. Freedom from judgement by others. That’s what I want. In a way, nature saves me from society.

Check. Nature is good.

I feel something out there in nature, alone, where just the experience brings out a calm, spiritual side of me. I’m not saying that I summon spirit wolves or anything by my side. It’s just peaceful. Calm. I can rest and feel well rested afterward. And I feel even better, just out there, with the bare minimum I need to live comfortably.

Check. Spirituality.


I love it when I get to experience things out in the world for myself, and I hate it when I have to do something for someone else, like a job or some assignment of some sort. Call me selfish, but I love it when I don’t have to say anything when showing people nature and know that they’re taking it in as well. It’s just like watching a movie without having to explain to the guy next to you what’s going on. Or taking a vacation somewhere without having to take tons of pictures to “preserve the memories.” Like people have that bad of a memory. Come on. I have some confidence in humankind, okay? The experience is what matters, and what you feel during that time is a memory in itself that only you can remember.

Check. The experience is worth more than the retelling of it.

Personal gain. Two words that you don’t really hear from me that often in a good connotation. Now, I’m neither a strong opponent of the “subjugation of others to gain something” clan nor an enemy of the “free, liberated man” group. What I’m talking about here is more focused on the effects of what people do on the world to gain things. Not in an environmentalist type of viewpoint either. Why would one want to be higher than someone else? What are we heading towards, anyway? Society is directed towards being number one, but what about the rest of the numbers? Why are we all fighting to go to the top, and why are those that give up scorned? What’s up there, anyway?

Yes, I know that you can’t just stay in one place all the time. There’s got to be movement in life, preferably for the better, because we’re all human. We all want better things in life. More comfort, more ease, more leisure. But it seems that every time we get what we want, we aim higher and want more.


Back to the topic.

Finally, I am constantly amazed at the world, its wonders and its beauty. Sounds cheesy, I know, but I love how nothing needs to be explained about nature. It’s just… there. And if there’s a mystery about it, then that’s even better. If someone were to explain to me that the rainbow I’m seeing next to the waterfall was actually a product of light being split by passing through a prism-the water mist- and goes on about wavelengths and frequencies and all that, I would, no offense to you science people out there, get bored. The experience would lose it’s magic. I would still be interested in how light works, but the experience is gone.

Check. Experience is more important than explanation.

After looking back at these things, I’m beginning to wonder-

am I a Transcendentalist? Or would I have agreed with them, at the least?

Yes, I agree to many of their views.

No, I’m not a Transcendentalist. Why?

I haven’t experienced it yet. I haven’t experienced the life of a Transcendentalist, or I didn’t know that I have in the past.

And it’s about the experience. Not how others perceive you.

How you are.



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