Perhaps the main theme and overbearing concept that Thoreau wishes to convey to the reader both in the conclusion and throughout Walden, is that we must recognize the great power and potential for new discovery and enjoyment in our minds. Thus, Thoreau calls for an ideological revolution to simplification in our lives and conveys a paradoxical view that the highest point of living is the leading of a simple life of a balance between change and solitude. This life is the art of activity within the art of structural living- a non-instrumental way of enhancing ones life through spiritual development and the cultivation of the mind and body. The purpose for this enhancement is fostering the spirit in its progress and not marred by material products or social structures. The spirit involves activity with nature and must not be hindered by material necessities demanded by society.
Such progress is change within oneself, within ones mind and soul and ultimately achieved through self-recognition. It is the recognizing of the self that leads to individualized experiences. This art requires pure devotion of the individual and the divorce from the boundaries of business and time. In doing so, the individual experiences a transcended self, a elevated piety and perennial youth (211).
Thoreau compares the art of and active life to one of unending youthfulness. He pervades the importance of the youth as innocent and pure. Such life must not be tainted by obscurities and the mundane routine of the city life but rather emerged, submerged in the purest form of existence-nature. Thoreau equates the outdoors (natural stimuli) with innocence when he states that every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors (17). Thoreau mirrors youthfulness to nature in order to convey a need of constant rebirth into purity and innocence that leads to a love of the earth. Thoreau provides an example of a life embracing youthfulness and the active search for change and perfection.
The story of the man from Kouroo is a compelling anecdote for how humans can transcend time and reduce it to the simple illusion that it is. This passage and the story of the man as a whole can be taken as a metaphor that Thoreau is showing us, one which we can apply to our own lives. The art does not compromise with time or with others opinions (211). The artist of Kouroo continuously searches for the perfect stick to make a staff until he finds that stick. He ignores even his friends dissuasions and desertions and perseveres his pursuit to obtain that which will bring purity. Thoreau states, Let us settle ourselves and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance (63).
The metaphor that Thoreau gives of the swamp with the hard bottom serves to show how people can drown and sink in the bog of society. However, to settle is to unsettle oneself from the conventions and ground feet downward in order to transcend. Although he searches for a simple element a stick- the process, the art of living is continual, complex and endearing. It is his singleness of purpose and love for the activity that brings him a pure art and youthfulness. The active life Associated with the art of living reveals living ones life engaging and searching nature without worrying of limitations.
The search of perfection results in a perfect art so unimpeded by external events. The artist uses pure materials of nature that are not tainted by the materialistic focus of the world. By employing these pure elements, the true artist of life brings a new system to take the place