Please join us from November 20th-December 15th, 2017 as And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau by Mathias B. Freese, tours with NURTURE Book Tours™.
Book Tour schedule:
November 20th – Nichole @ Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog
November 21st – Kelly @ Loves Books Group
November 22nd – Darcia @ Quiet Fury Books: The characters await you
November 23rd – Melissa @ Melissa H North
November 29th – Bobbie @ Bobbie the Bibliophile
December 1st – Stacy @ Nurture Blog
December 5th – Kristy @ Keep Calm and Write On
December 7th – Melissa @ Melissa H North
December 11th – Stacy @ Nurture Blog
December 12th – Bobbie @ Bobbie the Bibliophile
December 13th – Darcia @ Quiet Fury Books: The characters await you
December 15th – Sheila @ The Book Garden
And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau tells the story of a New York City man who becomes an Alabama man. Despite his radical migration to simpler living and a late-life marriage to a saint of sorts, his persistent pet anxieties and unanswerable questions follow him. Mathias Freese wants his retreat from the societal “it” to be a brave safari for the self rather than cowardly avoidance, so who better to guide him but Henry David Thoreau, the self-aware philosopher who retreated to Walden Pond “to live deliberately” and cease “the hurry and waste of life”? In this memoir, Freese wishes to share how and why he came to Harvest, Alabama (both literally and figuratively), to impart his existential impressions and concerns, and to leave his mark before he is gone.
As we sit here, what comes to my mind is how necessary it is for me to be free of you, Henry. You smile. You’re not a man who believes in disciples, and I am not a follower, just an admirer of yours. Most of my friends and relatives are now gone, a condition of old age, something you never experienced. Even your elder friend Emerson died many years after you did. He nailed my situation when he wrote that “we are what we think about all day long.” Ironically, he also said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” That is what I am doing in our walks. What larks we could have here, Henry, if Emerson were to join us right now! I like his take on life, but I favor yours. Emerson thinks and acts; you feel and act. After fifty-five years, I only dimly recall a list in one of E. B. White’s essays on you, included in a college reader, that I found amusing and charming. Sourcing your Walden, he itemized the costs accrued during the building of your shed, down to the nails. Back then, I wrote detailed thoughts in the margins of the essay with my ballpoint pen, and years later I lent the reader, with all my marginalia, to select students. After a while, the essay was marked up by one reader after another. I did not mind, for it was a Rosetta Stone of a kind. It was a sharing with them, a sharing of what had moved me and what was meaningful to me as a young person. White observed that upon graduation the sheepskin should be dispensed with and the latest edition of Walden should be given to the graduate, for it would serve him well all his days. I agree. One caveat: I’d add Krishnamurti’s Think on These Things, as its transcendental and spiritual teachings are equally prime real estate of the soul. From 1974 to 1979, White’s essay was passed around by the students in the alternative high school I administrated. These students were the discontented and disaffected, so reading about you, I assumed, might prove cathartic. The book ultimately vanished over the years and probably rests on one of my former student’s bookshelves, which is a good home for a work about you, Henry. You seem satisfied with the lunch. Nina will be thrilled that you approve. Come. Rise and walk me a little farther before you must go. Over there, under the roadbed, is a culvert that empties our share of Knox Creek into another large pool that feeds a marshland farther in. Strangers drop by and fish there for brim. Let’s walk over. I must admit to you that I am a man who needs to be tended to, to be cared for. My sister said that to Nina. I know that about myself. I must always be in a relationship. I have loved powerfully, intensely—and foolishly—in my time. And with my love I now have with Nina, and at our ages of seventy-three and seventy-six, I urgently feel the fragility of life itself. I have often thought about death, for years, in fact. I believe death is a great motivator if you see it that way. I write, Henry, to stave off death. Is Walden an immense exclamation that existence is sweet and should be savored—a paean of joy? As to the awareness of death, in my experience, it does not allay the unalloyed expectation of it happening. That is fear, Henry. Be careful of the road behind you. Here is the pond I spoke of. Let us just look as if it were for the first time. You smile again. It is an Eastern way of thinking, as you can tell. It says much. It is the spine of all you have written, I think. As for me, whenever I read Walden I find sustenance for my speculations about life. What does one do when one realizes, is aware, sees, that death is imminent or not far off? I am speaking to you as a man who knows that deeply. Awareness is not rooted in advice, maxims, suggestions, the comet’s tail behind death. You have devoted many pages to awakening your fellow man. You are awake and aware, Henry. And somehow you are here with me, long after you passed from this world. Which compels me to ask: what is death for you, Henry? Please enlighten me. No answer. Altogether fitting, for the question is so complicated. The conditions of our walk hold firm: I ramble, you listen. You are a client-centered therapist, Henry. It is for me alone to come to grips with death. I say to you, Henry, that since I cannot do anything about my mortality and having to, someday, face “the pertinacity of death,” I will just go on, in a cold sweat, until I slip away from this earth. It is in the meanwhile that I seek more than mere sentience; I seek an aware consciousness. I do not want to prepare for and wait for death. I can only be in this moment, which is to endure the magnificence of experience—life, and the possibility of the awakening of intelligence. Before you go, Henry, I’d like to know if an apocryphal exchange between you and Emerson is based on truth. It is written that he visited you in Staples’ jail that night and asked, “Henry, why are you here?” And you’re supposed to have quipped, “Waldo, why are you not here?” Did something like this—You’ve vanished, Henry. As quickly as you appeared. Our walk is over. Thank you for listening, but I’ve so much more to say, to ask. I must keep walking, keep talking. For that is life.
Title: And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau
Author: Mathias B. Freese
Genre: Non-Fiction – Memoir/Biography
Formats: Paperback & eBook
Published by: Wheatmark
Pub. Date: September 21, 2017
Number of pages: 117
Content Warning: N/A
Purchase at: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk and Barnes&Noble.com
Author Bio: MATHIAS B. FREESE is a multi-published, award-winning author, writer, teacher and psychotherapist.
- The i Tetralogy: Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award 2007
- Down to a Sunless Sea: National Indie Excellence finalist Book Awards 2007 &
- Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award 2007.
- This Mobius Strip of Ifs: National Indie (Winner) Book Awards, 2012 & Global Ebook Award finalist, 2012.
- I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust: Finalist in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest out of 424 submissions, Beverly Hills Book Awards, Winner;
- Readers’ Favorites, Five Stars; Indie Excellence Book Awards, Finalist; Readers’
- Favorite, Book Award Winner – Bronze medal
- Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers: 2016 Los Angeles Book Festival Honorable Mention, Great Northwest Book Festival Winner in Biography/Autobiography
- Category, Runner-up in General Non-Fiction Category in the San Francisco Book Festival, Winner for General Non-Fiction in The Beach Book Festival & Runner-Up in General Non-Fiction in the Paris Book Festival