Thoreau didn’t preach serenity and joy. He found them under leaves and in a heron’s flight — in the least meadow or bobbing cranberry in the marsh. His brother John died an agonizing death, yet was also serene, grateful to have lived.
gratitude for life having been given at all is the spring of remembrance, for a life is cherished even in misery . . . What ultimately stills the fear of death is not hope or desire, but remembrance and gratitude . . .
These are the words of a young Hannah Arendt, writing in Love and Saint Augustine. They might have been Thoreau’s.