“I have a room all to myself, it is nature”
“Be yourself, not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” Henry David Thoreau
I recently started reading the journals of Henry David Thoreau and the power of these texts surprised me. He wrote in the most simple, reflective and poetic manner about independence and nature. I have an ambivalent relationship to both nature and independence.
When I was a child I lived in a little wood cabin in the outskirts of a city in central Mexico. We had a big garden, we had fruit trees, there was a time when the plum and the peach trees would blossom in a beautiful white and pale pink. At that time I used to climb a ladder located on the back of the house that lead to a secret place where I used to sit on a corner to think. That was my secret place of independence. I remember that I felt secure and proud of myself whenever I went there, I used to sit there for a while to see how the moss had grown beneath the bricks. In my first years of puberty we lost the house, my family was also lost. Now, I feel that at the same time my sense of closeness to nature and independence was broken.
I am about to turn 29 years old and one of the questions that are important for me now are regarding independence. What does it mean to be independent? Does it mean to constantly fight to be true to yourself? Is it fighting for the person you once dreamt of being? Is it a political position? Is the way you establish relationships with your loved ones? Is it the way you walk the streets of the city you live in? Is it an empowerment process of self generation? Is it the ability to stand for what you believe in? Or would it be the detachment of all egoistic enterprises of self-improvement? It is being able to connect to that which surrounds you in a harmonic way? Would it be the capacity to have a close and lonely relationship with nature? To be self sufficient of admiring beauty? Is independence a task or a state? Is it a process as most of the things in life? Or is it a belief? These are the questions that rumble around my mind lately. Facing the need of starting a truly adult life of my absolute own decisions; the question about independence is crucial for the development of my life.
For Residency 108 I embarked in a close reading of Henry David Thoreau's journals to establish a written “dialogue” about nature and independence. I detached myself from any virtual communication and electronic devices in order to establish real, silent observation of nature and its movements, of its changes and suggestions. The fact that the Residency 108 is so close to the place where Thoreau wrote Walden, Life in the Woods in 1854 caught my attention. During the residency I took the time to walk, observe and write. It was a time of self and nature exploration always keeping in mind sincerity and simplicity.