"Among those who give Thoreau credit for shaping their own thought were John Muir, who originated the modern environmental preservation movement; Theodore Roosevelt, who helped make preservation a function of the national government; and Rachel Carson, whose own writing helped form the modern conception of environment; Mahatma Gandhi; and Dr. Martin Luther King, linking Thoreau to the formation of the modern states of South Africa, India, and Pakistan, and the American Civil Rights movement."
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, how ever measured or far away." (Walden-- Where I Lived, and What I Lived For)
A peek into Thoreau's transcendentalist philosophy and social critique. His life in the woods wasn't just a silly experiment; he wanted to show people how chasing after the trivialities of life -- comfort, material things, etc. -- isn't satisfying. Life is meant for more.
Thoreau was curious to know how deep Walden Pond really was. "It is remarkable how long men will believe in the bottomlessness of a pond without taking the trouble to sound it." So, he surveyed it himself, an action which, of course, was accompanied by a philosophical reflection: "What if all ponds were shallow? Would it not react on the minds of men? I am thankful that this pond was made deep and pure for a symbol. While men believe in the infinite some ponds will be thought to be bottomless."