Thoreau is someone most Americans would probably tell you they know, they very well might. We know the name. We know Emerson too. We know both, amongst many others, loved a good walk in the woods. And if the digital age has not completely consumed the world, our entire being, then chances are we share this love with the transcendentalist...at least to some extent. Perhaps we don't find God or our true meaning or an "Ah" (angels singing with blinding light) moment in the outdoors, but I know for me personally the woods, nature, outdoors, gives me quite the respite. Maybe the same works for others.
If anything, this longing for and this finding of peace, rest, meaning, and freedom in nature that Thoreau outlines in "Walking," could be the case even more so in our historical moment. The difference between nature and our technological world, our computer screens, our Blackberrys, is stark, and it is this difference that could make these ideas greater in the contemporary time--insofar as our longing for, our nostalgic feelings towards, and perhaps even our sense of loss of this bucolic ideal is concerned.
Every time I've walked into the woods I think of how great it is that my phone is off and locked in the car. Thoreau described his appreciation of nature as being influenced by a certain kind of acknowledgment of difference; except for him it was the freedom from the sedentary life of the town, work, and even responsibility.
At the same time, Thoreau's writing should not be spared any critique. He wonders how the women of his time and in his community can bear being "cooped up" (for lack of a better term) in the house. And as with several topics in "Walking," he mentions such a thing in passing only to go on to the next idea. Much Feminist critique of Thoreau and other "walkers" is that this is largely, if not fully, a male experience. Being a male, I do not have the beauty of being objective in this sense. I've always loved the outdoors, nature, so on. Perhaps, this is not the case for everyone, and that is really just fine with me. As for Thoreau, it seems he argues that this a universal.
One must assume the convenience of such statements, the convenience and the ease Thoreau seems to encounter with everyday life. If this were not the case, if he had to work as some others that he mentions, it would be difficult to say that his ideas would not be different. In short, we can't all afford, in all senses of the word, to go take a walk in the woods. But maybe we should try it once in a while.