Anchors Aweigh


Internal Anchors 1: a building as anchor


A few weeks ago I heard, in the background of my life,  a couple of NPR radio reports of some kind of event in Miami that referred to marches or confrontations happening outside of an old building, a short skyscraper from a bygone era.  When I lived in Miami in the late 1960’s, there was a building called “27 stories” by the African American community. 
I only saw 27 Stories (which actually may have 28 floors and is the Miami/Dade County courthouse; reportedly the tallest structure south of Baltimore when it was completed in 1928)  3 or 4 times during the two in a half years I lived in Miami.  When I heard the radio reference, after another half century of the building’s existence, and mine, I remembered a pivotal part that building had played in my psyche.  27 stories was part of an unexpected experience that led me to an expansion of consciousness about the amazing complexity of the workings of mental life.  Some of my current understanding of human existence is related to the discovery of how an internal image of that building was playing an important, but unconscious, role in my way of situating myself in the world.
The driving route which I knew best in Miami was US 1 (variously called Biscayne Boulevard, Brickell Ave and South Dixie Highway).    I regularly drove on it all the way from Coconut Grove, where we first lived in the area,  North to North Miami Beach where my mother-in-law lived.  Once I had driven it all the way south to the Florida Keys.   I didn’t use 22nd Ave nearly as often, but I had been on it in the far north of the county and as far south as Coral Way.     I “knew” them both as North/South Arteries, which ran parallel to each other. 
One day, I was driving farther south on 22nd   than I had ever gone before.  I stopped at a major intersection for a red light, the sun so hot it made me wish I had kept the top up on my wife’s yellow VW convertible.  I was impatient to be moving again so that at least there would be a breeze.   As I glanced for the third time at the traffic light, I saw a sign that indicated that the street I had stopped for, which crossed 22nd at an almost right angle, was labeled “US 1.” 
 I had an immediate sense of confusion, disorientation, and almost panic.   I didn’t know where I was.  I thought I was driving parallel to US 1 and here was evidence that I was about to cross it.  
In the sharp, painful experience of being “lost” I was suddenly aware that an image of “27 stories” came into my consciousness, standing tall and straight and solitary in my mind.  The image of the building began moving from a position behind me and over my left shoulder to a new position behind my right shoulder.   In my mind, the building appeared as a very clear image, and my orientation to it had suddenly changed because of the contradictory information I got when two “parallel” streets crossed.   
The light changed, I drove ahead and I began to try to make sense of what I had experienced.   Eventually it came to me that US 1 must not always go North-South, as I had laid it out in the mental grid I used to locate myself in Dade County.  Later, looking at a map, I confirmed that south of downtown Miami, US 1 starts on a Southwesterly course, at times running perpendicular to its generally Southern direction from the Canadian border with Maine to the Keys.  
This event marks the beginning of the realization that much of my life is based on internal constructions that have a reality only partially related to the actual physical world I live in.  I had stored a “picture” of 27 stories in my mind and was using it as a reference point to keep track of my location and to help me navigate as I travelled in the region I lived in.  Most of the time, I was not aware of this image, but the immediacy with which it appeared convinced me that it was in residence at all times, functioning to keep me located in the world.  Although out of awareness and in the background of my mind most of the time, it could come easily into consciousness under certain conditions.
I didn’t think it at the time, but I do now say that “27 stories” was an anchor, helping me to keep my moorings in a world of mobility, change, irregularity and unpredictability.  For me it was a tie to the reality of the city and where I was in it, dependent on an image that I carried in my head without awareness.  The process of anchoring myself in geographical reality in this way worked quite well most of the time.  However, the fact that my inner map was distorted and idiosyncratic in relation to the external physical world, meant that it sometimes would give me a false sense of safety, subject to disruption when the qualities of the external world intruded on my inner map.   
 Inner images and schemas constitute our personal reality, and they inevitably are not in perfect correspondence to the outer world. Sometimes they introduce complexity that is not there and unnecessary; more often they oversimplify in order to keep us from being overwhelmed.  There were times when I was sure that I was travelling South, when in fact I was going due West at that moment.  However, I wasn’t “lost” until I was confronted by evidence of my map’s distortion.  In Boston, a city whose streets were not established in relation to any kind of rectilinear grid, my minds attempts to locate myself by constructing a grid like map, insured that I never found anything new without a struggle.  Sometimes I could not get to a desired destination at all, and I almost always, seemed to be “lost”.



Internal Anchor 2: Letting go of J




Many years later, I had a year of grieving.  My wife very suddenly announced that she didn’t want to be married to me.  She moved out of our 18th century New England central chimney farm house that we were restoring and renovating in the hill country between Northhampton and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. My extended mourning was not only for the loss of her, but also for many other powerful losses which I had not yet properly grieved.
Goshen was a place where the trees outnumbered people a million to one, where the population in the last quarter of the 20th century was only a small fraction of what it had been in the mid 19th century.  J and I were mired in what seemed to have become an endless project—trying to preserve and restore horsehair plaster walls, five fireplaces, a failing stone foundation,  a post and beam frame that held the house together and upright, and which included one rotted 16 inch Beam that went from ground floor to eave.  With the help of two college students we hired as helpers, I used a make-shift rope and pulley arrangement to hoist the massive 20 foot long replacement beam into position.    Every heroic accomplishment only led to the next formidable challenge.
When we started, there was not only no electricity in the house, but also none on the ¾ mile length of Ball Road itself.  The house had no water, no furnace, no bathroom (the wooden outhouse smelled like—an outhouse—and had spiders). There was a hand pump for water in the “kitchen” connected by a rubber house to the open well behind the house.  A snake lived in the stone lining of the well.  One of the men  installing an electric pump in the well to supply the new plumbing system was so frightened by the appearance of the snake that he left the site and never returned.   
We found an amazing mainstream dropout who handcrafted perfect reproduction colonial 12 over 12 window sash. J may have decided on leaving after she had spent untold hours glazing about 15 of the sashes (24 panes per sash).  It was not easy work.    I began the arduous task of installing the 22 new windows one by one to replace the “modern” windows that had been put into the house in the 1940’s.   Each installation presented a different challenge, since none of the walls of the house were plumb after two centuries of “settling”.
J had chosen the house, and I went along somewhat against my better judgment, but carried along by a love of rural life and land, awe inspired by the authenticity and  integrity of house itself.    I was also supported in undertaking this endeavor by an overoptimistic attitude I had inherited and learned from my father, fed by my life long tendency to choose unconventional life paths.  My marriage to her had some of the same optimism and impulsivity and going against better judgment.  I loved her passionately and whole-heartedly and was eager to please her; which is not to say that at times I didn’t hurt her as terribly as she over the years also brought great pain to me. 
After J moved out, I cried  almost every day of that year, spent the night with her a few times in the various rentals she kept moving in and out of, was worried and concerned for her, angry and not comprehending of what she was doing, or my part in it, scared for myself.  I never thought I wouldn’t have a future, but my heart could not let go of her and my mind rejected the idea that I could ever really be happy without her.   Being miles out in the country, a half mile to the main road in winter, no garage to keep my truck from being buried in the snow, a 30 mile commute to work, months when the temperature was below freezing and often below zero, I had a bleak and lonely existence.  In that year, most of the time it was my work that made worth living.
One night in the middle of that winter, I had a vivid dream, with a strange ritual where I was observing natives dancing around a fire in the woods.  As the scene began to fade, a voice said, “Let her go and she will come back to you”.  I struggled for a few months trying to understand the meaning of the dream--how literal, how symbolic, how internal and psychological, how external and even predictive.  I began to lean to an understanding that suggested it was time to let go of my attachment to J and to let my life move on.
On another night, this one in late April, I arrived in Goshen about 9, after my long drive over Windsor Mountain on my way from my office in Pittsfield.   It had warmed up and was raining.  A few yards beyond the turn from the paved road  onto our gravel road  I saw the yellow traffic horses signally that Ball road  was closed.  With a sinking feeling, I realized it was, unexpectedly, MUD season. The road would be impassable beyond this point for at least a few days, until the temperature in the road bed had risen above freezing all the way to frost-line.  Then the town road crew would come and pack the gravel down making it passable again.
I was tired and weary and sad as always going home in the night, after a long day’s work and the commute back and forth in my pickup truck.  I would have to walk the half mile in the dark and the rain and the sadness to the large and lonely house—with only a dog named Dylan and two cats to greet me.  Dylan’s reaction to my coming home suggested that the cats didn’t keep him from being as lonely as I was.  The cats also seemed interested in my being home, but it was hard for me to trust that this might mean more than an expectation of dinner.  The fact that I don’t remember their names speaks something of the emotional distance between us, although I was happy that they slept at the foot of the bed to keep me company.
I climbed wearily and dispiritedly out of the truck and started trudging down the road, so dark I couldn’t see its margins. Twice I came close to stumbling into the ditches that ran on the left and right below its raised bed.  I was wet, but the rain wasn’t really hard and not as cold as I had feared-- the temperature had “soared” into the fifties.  
As I trudged through the mushy gravel of the road, I was strangely moved to bring my arms up at the elbows and found myself imagining that I was holding my wife in my arms, somehow substantial enough that I could feel her weight against me.  I imagined that I was transporting J back to our house, perhaps to take her over the threshold in the gesture signaling a formal honeymoon night we had never had.  There was comfort in holding her in fantasy, although my seemingly infinite sadness was only slightly mitigated. 
I was about halfway to the house when the rain stopped, the clouds separated, a full moon appeared, lighting up the formerly blindingly black night.   I could see the muddy road, I could see the ashy bark of the birch trees.  The wind died and there was silence.   The weight in my arms seemed to diminish, and I realized that J was levitating.  In a moment I was no longer holding her, my arms were empty.  I had a few seconds of intense painful sadness, and fear, and I reached out with my hands to try to catch hold of her departing image.   I heard myself saying, in what was a whisper that wanted to be a shout, “No, No, come back.  Don’t leave me.”   In spite of my entreaty,  J continued to slowly rise in front of me.  I then experienced a sense of lightening in my being, a sense of release from a burden that had held my heart heavy in my chest.  My feet began lifting more easily from the soggy mud, and the emotional heaviness that had gripped me for so many months was gone.   I then knew that I was losing J that night, in a way that was just as significant as when she had actually taken her things and left the house saying she would not return.  But this loss seemed, in spite of my protesting it in whispers and intended shouts, liberating and right.  J slowly moved away, above and in front of me.  About twenty feet up, her movement stopped. 
For an instant I thought she might come back, and now I both longed for that and dreaded it.   It was only a pause in her departure, however, and I quickly knew that it was the moment of parting and goodbye.  I spoke aloud a short farewell.  J said nothing, but her ascent began again, slowing accelerating until she was really flying upward, away from me, becoming smaller and smaller as she rose into the sky.  J contracted into a small black spot which continued to shrink so that it blended in with the night sky and was no more.
The experience of that night on Ball Road really did put an end to my mourning.   I felt unburdened, lighter, and able to more fully engage in my life which in so many ways had been on pause.   Letting go of the house was another story, one that took another year, with other complicated internal and external events.   (For the record, J did come back to me and we worked on our differences for another 12 years, but not on Ball Road). 

J was also an anchor in my life.   And even when she was gone and I had not seen her for months, an image of her lived inside of me in a way that I had not known until that night on the road when I held her in my outstretched arms and I saw h

her fade into the sky.   The image I had of her within was not navigational, like “27 stories”.  Yet it was this image, as well as her physical presence in my daily life, that had provided the orientation and grounding that a primary relationship can give.    These images are an essential part of the sense of stability, safety and security we get from our bonding and attachment to another person. 
 I knew that I loved J, but I hadn’t been aware that there was an internal construction that I was attached to, in some kind of mediating position between me and her external, physical reality.  No doubt, some of the difficulties between us were related to the oversimplifications and distortions in that construction—ones that parallel the places where my internal map of Miami, didn’t correspond so well to the physical reality of the city streets.





Internal Anchor 3: David



Last week, I exchanged some emails with a man whom I had been friends with in high school. Among other things he informed me that two of his high-school classmates, people I had known, had died.  I had already learned of David’s death 10 years ago, shortly after it happened, but I had assumed that Caroline was still alive, when in fact she had been dead for two years when I got the unwelcome news.
I was surprised at the strength and depth of my feelings and other internal reactions at learning of David’s death those years ago.   I had not seen him or communicated with him in any way for over fifty years.
David was only in his sixties when he died, a year or so older than I, and I knew that he had lived a healthier life than had, even in high school.  These facts helped put his death into the category of those which are very upsetting because they forcefully remind us of our own mortality.  It is amazing that we all know we are going to die and still live as if this is not true.  Even someone as introspective and internally focused as I am, has mostly lived at least until my sixties hardly maintaining the awareness that my end has been getting closer and closer and could, in fact, happen at any moment. 
The financial planning industry does its best to keep the fear of old age in front of us, but the latent message seems to be that if we can just accumulate enough money, we may not die, or we will die comfortably, and at peace.  Money may make the process of living and dying more comfortable; it is not likely to provide a satisfactory answer to the question of what is the meaning of our life.   We continue to make choices, and create realities and fictions and behave in ways that would make little sense if we were thinking regularly of our inevitable ending, our movement toward non-being.  David’s death, confronting me with someone near my age and who appeared to have taken good care of himself and who had already ceased to be, was a jolting reminder of this truth about my own situation.                                  





The level at which I was troubled by hearing of David’s death seemed to involve something more than just the reminder of my own mortality.  I felt a loss powerful and mysterious in relation to someone who had been in my world for only three years of an adolescence fifty years before.  David sat next to me in advanced Latin (he and another student were able to actually speak the language to one another).  One afternoon after school, David had invited me to walk home with him so that he could teach me the basics of music theory and harmony.  I did leave his house that afternoon having glimpsed a whole new realm of human thinking lying behind the creation of something I had always responded to emotionally, but never thought about in terms of how it was created or how it works.   It is also true that one night, David “taught” me to drink scotch—he said it was an acquired taste.  Although I did, indeed, find distasteful the glass of it he gave me at the time, many months later, I found myself craving its

taste and chose it for a night of drinking instead of my usual bourbon and ginger ale (formerly Coke). For many years it was my drink of choice.  I voted for David for student council president, probably at the urging of his younger brother, Richard, whom I had as a friend for a much longer time and whom I have seen recently.    
I didn’t understand the level of distress my learning of David’s death caused me at the time, but as it persisted on and off over several months, I thought I had to do something in response.  I sent a check to his memorial fund at our school, the only time I ever sent them money in the more than fifty years since I graduated.  I stopped thinking about David very often, but something lingered, a sense of something missing in my life, related to his ceasing to be, but a mystery to me, since he had never been fully in my life and certainly not at all for a very long time.   It is only now, re-stimulated by learning of Caroline’s death, that I have also returned my attention to the puzzle of  pain I experienced when I heard David had died.


   Internal Anchor 4: Caroline 


Caroline had a very different place in my external life, although equally brief.  David lived in the circle of people I knew—his parents were friends with my aunt and uncle, and his brother became a player in the bridge and bourré (booray) games that were a regular part of my high school and college life.    Caroline, whom I had heard of in the small community of our school, and who had a very clear reputation in it, lived in a world seen only a distance.  Her mother was a socialite, known for her social concerns and good works.  These were people so secure in their status, that they drove Fords instead of Cadillacs and who had enough gratitude for their own life of privilege that their unique in-town swimming pool had hours when the public (well people they knew) could come and swim even when the family wasn’t at home.  Before I even entered high school, my cousin Frances,  a year ahead of me in school and in David’s and Caroline’s class, used to tell stories about the poor little rich girl who came to school in hand-me-down dresses and completely un-stylish, cheap shoes. There was some truth to these stories, even though Caroline was also to be presented as a New Orleans debutante. 
In the early spring of 1957, when I was a junior, I had a break up with a girlfriend in my class at Newman.   That caused me a lot of pain, and one Saturday afternoon, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of that ex, I walked along a sidewalk by Tulane University.  I lived in the neighborhood of the school.  My father and grandfather had both gone there, although neither had graduated.  Eventually I did earn my undergraduate degree from Tulane and, at least figuratively, rode the Ferret Street bus to college as David’s brother Richard had with caustic humor once predicted).   
I had a lot to drink that Saturday afternoon to try to drown my sorrows.  I knew that my ex was in a building I would be passing, taking part in a debate competition with the school oratorical society team.   I don’t remember if I saw her, but I did encounter her debating partner, Caroline, and she approached me, and offered some kind of consolation.  Perhaps she was afraid I would make a scene if I saw my ex and perhaps distract her from giving her best debate performance.     




I felt touched by Caroline’s attention and attracted to her.  My sadness over the loss of my previous girlfriend began to fade as my mind and heart contemplated the remote possibility of having a relationship with Caroline.   Sometime soon thereafter, I found the considerable courage it took to call her house, ask to speak to her, and ask her out.  I was unbelieving, inordinately excited, and full of terror when she said “yes”. 
Caroline and I had a very intense three month high school Romance.  There were proms and after-operetta parties and post-graduation parties.  There were hours parked in my aunt Mathile’s red Chevrolet convertible outside of Caroline’s house.  In those precious hours from midnight to sometimes 2 or 3 AM, we talked, we kissed, we held each other.  The intensity of our breathing often fogged the convertible’s windows.  Once, the security guard who patrolled Caroline’s cul-de-sac street knocked on the widow and shined his flashlight on us when I rolled down the glass made opaque by our passionate breathing. 
Caroline’s talents and achievements were clearly in the same realm as David’s.    She too sang a lead role in the Mikado, was a successful debater and won a state wide completion for extemporaneous speaking (I was there in the audience and was filled with pride to be her boyfriend).   Caroline also won a National Merit Scholarship and could have gone to any College she wanted.   She was planning to be an engineer and she chose Cornell, not only because of the excellence of its engineering program, but also because it was very large.  Part of the intensity of our love affair, was created by the clarity on both our parts that it would end.  Caroline told me her wanting to go to a large university came from her hope that it would make it more likely that she would find a suitable husband there.  I can’t remember exactly how she said it, but I know it caused me pain even though I knew we weren’t going to make a life together. 
Caroline was perhaps the most expressively romantic woman I was ever with.  Caroline, in spite of her practical side as she was planning her search for a life partner, read me poetry and gave me a copy of Le Petit Prince (which I located on my bookshelf as I started writing this). She wrote me at thank you note for a birthday present I gave her with a fountain pen filled with brown ink that wasn’t used by anyone else I ever knew before or since.    She was sweet, and sensitive, and she noticed who I was, and offered me support.  She insisted that one of our dates, in the limited time we had, consist in her going with me to the library to study for my junior year final exams.   I would have not studied so that I could spend time with her, but she wouldn’t hear of it.  She dragged me to the library, went over notes and texts with me, and quizzed me until she was convinced I was prepared.
When my high school friend wrote to give me news of his classmates and mentioned that Caroline had died two years before, I was stunned.  When I had asked him about his class reunion, I had hoped he would give me some news of her.  For several years I had had fleeting fantasies of having a correspondence or conversation with Caroline.   It was not that I had any expectations that we would have any kind of relationship, even as friends.  I knew she was married, and I knew that her social life now had always been and still would be in a very different realm than mine.  But I wondered what her life story was.  I did know she had quickly given up the idea of being an engineer and I wondered if she had gotten some other advanced academic degree, or pursued some other profession, or if she was a writer or a teacher.  I wondered how she saw the world, was she still romantic in the sense that I was and still am.   All of this seemed to occupy a very small room or perhaps just a large closet in my mind.
So why did I feel again such disorientation, such a sense of being unsettled, cast adrift by learning that Caroline had died?    What place did the memory of Caroline play in my internal world that created such a sense of loss upon hearing that she was no longer alive?   
I have realized now, that I carried images of both David and Caroline, as another form of anchoring inner reality.  They were ideals for me, they were successful and conforming, and had more resources than I.   It anchored me to know that there was such people in the world, whom I had known personally and with whom I had even had had a relationship.  Perhaps there was some confirmation for me, that even though I was an erratic student and didn’t win a Merit Scholarship, that I also was a special person.  I didn’t think of them as perfect, and over the years I have come  to  value myself, my uniqueness, my idiosyncrasies and the meaning of my limitations and what they have led to in terms of rich of experience and even wisdom.  Yet it seems that I must have been taking reassurance from the knowledge there lived two people who had been my teen-age peers who were been visibly super-successful and who saw me as special even though I wasn’t.   
I had harbored the notion that someday I would encounter Caroline and learn something about her life, to add to my knowledge of how lives flow and develop (and end), how people change and grow and yet stay the same.  My hope might have been to find evidence that the best of people aren’t corrupted or defeated by time.  Perhaps I also hoped to find some confirmation from these two, who couldn’t understand how I seemed to be wasting my potential as they understood it, would see that I had turned out worthy and psychologically healthy even though I followed a very different path from theirs.






Caroline and David’s Classmate, at my request, did kindly send me a newspaper obituary for Caroline.   She died at age 72, was married to the same man she met at Cornell and married soon out of college, lived in Saint Louis, had three children.  She had graduated as a mathematics major from Cornell, she had not gotten an advanced degree, but besides being active in and a leader in the Junior league and a patron of the zoo, she had become a well-known and celebrated specialist in Olmstead parks, co-written a book on the man and parks and had worked and lectured widely in the effort to have them preserved, maintained and appreciated.
I don’t know if Caroline remained a romantic.  I don’t know if she loved her husband poetically.  I don’t know if she felt fulfilled by the life she had.  I don’t know if she ever had a single thought of me in all those fifty years and whether she ever wondered what became of that guy she dated for three months at the end of her senior year of high school.    I never will know these things.  She will never know how much I treasured the experience I had that spring of 1957 loving and being loved by her.  Death is a dead end.  It is a loss pf possibilities and potentials.  In some cases it is also the loss of anchors we didn’t know we had.  They were helping to keep us safe, oriented, knowing which way is South, and often we don’t even know they are there.





There is something freeing in weighing anchors.  They impede full motion and going on with the journey.  Which at some point we all have to surrender to and complete.  In the end, it doesn’t matter what lives others have lived, or whether they would have approved of yours or mine. The image of our own self that we create and maintain (and hopefully fine tune from time to time) has to be our source of guidance and security.  We have to include awareness that there is no perfection, no ending that includes all earlier potential, no point at which even radical change can’t come or be justified or be necessary.  There is always unpredictability, mystery, inscrutability, the rise and fall of the waves and tide, the shifting of the wind.  Life or Death can be gentle and peaceful or stormy and brutal.   Eventually we become the speck on the horizon which moves toward the zero we also always were, like J’s image leaving me on Ball Road in Goshen as the storm passed away.  We then continue to be only in the images and after- images that others have created from us.   We may help to anchor and orient someone else who is seeking to create a sense of meaning and stability for his or her existence.


Internal Anchor 5:  What lingers.

As I near what I assume is the end of the journey that writing this essay has been, another set of perceptions and insights comes into view.
In the decade since my parents died, I have been surprised, and delighted at the discovery of how much they are still with me.  At times I see them clearly,  I hear their voices with all the familiar accents and the variety of their styles of singing what they spoke.  They praise and criticize.  They express affection and annoyance.  They give opinions and advice that is no less valuable and no more useful than it was when they were alive.  Sometimes they quarrel with each other in my head.  The presence of their dynamic and energetic multimodal images gives vivid witness to the fact that their anchoring and orienting function for me, in all of its positive and negative aspects, has outlived their sojourn in the natural world.  The images and their meanings for me have perhaps diminished but certainly not ceased even with the physical deaths of my mother and father.
I suspect that if I drove along US 1 in Miami today that the image of “27 stories” would still be there in the background, perhaps not quite as accurate as a GPS, but not as dependent on someone else’s technology either.  I don’t know if it would have refined itself enough to handle the South Westerly drift of US 1.
The recognition that something clearly lingers and keeps functioning even after the death of people who have been anchors in our lives,  gives me a glimpse of another meaning of the energy that has been evoked in response to my learning of the deaths of David and Caroline.  Their images have not died within me and their continuing presence seems to be there to remind me of unfinished business.   Since I have survived them, the question of whether I still have a major task ahead has come more urgently into focus.  I could be dead instead of them, and actuarially speaking, it is something of a surprise it didn’t happen that way.    This leads me to ask whether I have fulfilled my potential as well as they did theirs.  I have no judgments in relation to them, because I can’t really know their inner experience—their happiness or discontent, their sense of fulfillment or yearnings to have done or been more.   One of the reasons I was so shocked to learn of their endings, was a hope that I would get to correct and refine my image of them—essentially frozen since high school and no doubt full of distortions even then and uncorrected by my and their 50 years of living since.  That correction is no longer to be hoped for.

Writing this seems to be part of the kind of work I didn’t do earlier in my life and in that way, I strive to honor David and Caroline and to acknowledge what they and others have meant to me-- in ways I have not done before.  Yet, even as I finish this essay which they have inspired, I am also imagining that the residual presence of their images is a support to keep working to fulfill some potential in me that each of them had glimpsed and which even now, in the richness of the life I have lived, has not yet been fully realized.  The memory of David’s believing that I could understand theory and harmony and Caroline’s

insisting that I study for my exams is giving me more courage and hope that I might yet write something worthy of the mental endowment with which I have been blessed (and, perhaps, cursed) .   
I had begun a major intellectual project even before I learned of Caroline’s death.  It is ambitious and I have doubts that I can really do it.  Remembering her and David and what they seemed to see in me, has strengthened my resolve to try.   I believe that I have lived the life that has been right for me and I am only prepared to even consider this other project, because of all of what I have experienced and how I’ve grown from it.  Perhaps now, I am really ready to include this aspect of myself as well.   I am extremely excited, as well as fearful, to be undertaking this task.   I am no longer afraid to fail, because my life has been a success.  It may have been that the intense fear of failure I had as an adolescent was a part of what kept me from taking the risk to fully apply myself to intellectual achievement in high school and beyond.   Perhaps the working on the house in Goshen, which was a grand success and although not completed by us and not fully to our standards, is partly where I learned to see the wonderful value even in the not perfect.  
My thanks to you Caroline and to you, David.  And to all of the others who have been my anchors, my direction pointing images, my propelling winds and my inspirations.   Your value to me is not over,  and any accomplishments attained in my future will be partly yours.