“...I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days.”
——Henry David Thoreau
When Thoreau wrote that line, he was thinking of the Walden Pond he knew as a boy.
Woodchoppers and the Iron Horse had not yet greatly damaged the beauty of its setting. A boy could go to the pond and lie on his back against the seat of a boat, lazily drifting from shore to shore while the 1)loons dived and the swallows dipped around him. Thoreau loved to recall such sunny hours and summer days “when 2)idleness was the most attractive and productive business.”
I too was a boy in love with a pond, rich in sunny hours and summer days. Sun and summer are still what they always were, but the boy and the pond changed. The boy, who is now a man, no longer finds much time for idle drifting. The pond has been 3)annexed by a great city. The 4)swamps where 5)herons once hunted are now drained and filled with houses. The bay where water lilies quietly floated is now a harbor for motor boats. In short, everything that the boy loved no longer exists—except in the man’s memory of it.
Some people insist that only today and tomorrow matter. But how much poorer would we be if we really lived by that rule? So much of what we do today is 6)frivolous and 7)futile and soon forgotten. So much of what we hope to do tomorrow never happens.
The past is the bank in which we store our most valuable possession: the memories that give meaning and depth to our lives.
Those who truly treasure the past will not8)bemoan the passing of the 9)good old days, because days 10)enshrined in memory are never lost. Death itself is powerless to 11)still a remembered voice or erase a remembered smile. And for one boy who is now a man, there is a pond which neither time nor tide can change, where he can still spend a quiet hour in the sun.