JUNE 7, 1937
HYDE PARK, N.Y., Sunday—There was one point made by Dr. Van Loon in his Commencement address on Friday that struck me as particularly good for any graduating class. He told them that no one could escape the vicissitudes of life. Ups and downs were inevitable, but if you built an inner tower where you gathered all the memories that you liked to dwell with, and into which you could retire when the world around you seemed too overwhelming, it would smooth your path in life. In other words, if you remember "Lost Horizons," a "Shangri-La" of your own, made up of the friends, the experiences, the contacts that make life worth living. One or two of the older people came up to me afterwards and said: "The youngsters, no matter how young, seemed to enjoy that talk today and yet there was so much in it that we want to remember as well."
I sat with my hands folded on the train to Hyde Park Friday, because everything I owned had gone ahead of me including my knitting and manuscripts of every kind. It was rather a novel experience not to have my hands busy, but I looked out at the beauty of early summer on the Hudson River, and on the whole it was rather pleasant to think and do nothing. It is very soothing to watch pictures pass you like a panorama and I kept thinking to myself if this were Spain, would I be sitting so calmly and with such security watching the summer pageant go by!
We should count over our blessings now and then, and not the least among them is that no shells are dropping on our cities and villages, that no children in great numbers are departed from their parents being cared for in temporary asylums. Some of this suffering can be alleviated but it is only alleviation and some measure of harm remains untouched.
If reforms do not come when people are at peace, of course, they have to come through violent upheavals, so as I looked out I thought: "Thank God, that this nation has had the courage to face the need of changes before we reached the point where bloodshed was the only way to achieve a change." No wonder the peoples who have democratic forms of government cling to them! If they realize what they are spared, they will work unceasingly to make democracy function properly.
Arrived at Hyde Park, I found that some of the things I wanted to do in my guest house could not be done, but as is the usual experience of all householders, the work is not quite as far advanced as I had hoped. But each time, I do a little and someday everything will be in order.
I visited my mother-in-law yesterday and found her very well, though walking is still a slow process. It certainly is a joyous feeling to be in the country and I have almost forgotten how warm Washington was last week, and that city streets are just city streets no matter where they are.