Coming Home

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This is it: the last day of my vacation. Part of me (a Big part!) wants to mope, to pout and kick, and say, “Waaahh – now it’s all over!” But what is it, really, that’s ‘all over’? The whole thing is just my own mental division of life into “vacation” and “not on vacation” – that’s all. Yes, it’s true, on vacation I don’t have to ‘work’, but then I love my work. Yes, I get to do “whatever I want” on vacation, but being of service to other people is also very much “what I want”, so that one doesn’t really hold water, either.

I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame again today, just to be there one more time, and let the spirit of it sink in a little more deeply. And this time, before leaving, I found myself at the gift store, looking at all the stuff you can buy – all the stuff that represents one’s love for the game: autographed balls, photos, team hats and jerseys, books, posters. The ‘old’ part of me would certainly have found something to ‘bring back alive’ from Cooperstown, some doodad, or keepsake or memento that I could stick on a desk or a wall and smile at every so often.

But I found myself walking around and just smiling. I no longer need any ‘stuff’ to remind me of my love for baseball: I have it in my heart, always.

It’s like when people in my life find out I like baseball, and they ask me, “Oh yeah – so who are you rooting for?” And increasingly, I can’t answer that question – it’s not even relevant. Oh, I might mention that I follow my local teams, sure, and even ‘keep my eye on’ a few more out-of-town teams each year, like I would ‘root for’ the progress of a favorite child.

But all of that jazz matters less and less to me; the real answer is that I just love baseball: I love the unexpected way the season unfolds each year, the new kids that force their way in, the players that suddenly explode in a blaze of unexpected glory, the comeback stories, the old guys making use of their one more chance in the summer sun. That is to say, I hold baseball more lightly than I ever did before – deeply and lovingly, but more lightly. I won’t say it doesn’t matter what happens, but more and more, what really matters is that it happens.

And I find that this is how I feel about my work with therapy patients, too: increasingly, I have less and less ‘ego’ involved in exactly how it goes. It’s more the privilege and honor of being able to be there while whatever happens, happens. It isn’t about me, but rather about clearing a pathway for the patient to follow. I’m not the ‘doer’ anymore – I’m just the snowplow. In other words, I’m holding the whole process more lightly – deeply and lovingly, but lightly.

So I got to thinking that I want to be able to hold my life more lightly, now. I don’t want to be making arbitrary distinctions between being ‘at work’ and being ‘on vacation’. I don’t want to be sad because I’m leaving a vacation, or happy that I’m going on vacation. I want to clutch life to my chest, dearly, like I hold baseball: to love it, deeply and indiscriminately, for whatever it is, no matter how it ‘turns out’; to be my own snowplow, rather than identifying with the ups and downs (“I’m bad/I’m good”), or even differentiating between ups and downs. There are no ups and downs – there is just life, one minute following the next. There is just paying attention to what develops, and being interested, no matter what develops.

Instead of, “What the hell is that all about?” I want to say, “Gee – what is that all about?”

It’s like the parents who complain to me about their child, “He just does that for attention.” And I tell them, “Well then, why not give him attention?”

So, I’m taking a vow, though I want it to be a realistic vow. A recovering alcoholic doesn’t say, “I’ll never drink again,” he says, “I’m not going to drink today, and I’m going to follow my program, and we’ll see what happens.”

So my vow is simply this:

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I’m going to try to be kind to myself at every step, stop making arbitrary distinctions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and just pay attention as closely as I can, appreciating each thing that comes down the pike, remembering that I really have no way of knowing what each thing actually ‘means’, in the larger sense of things, or what it is going to lead to. I’m going to try to not miss my life, by obsessing about details, or wailing that it didn’t go ‘my way’.

And most of all, I’m going to try and treat myself like a favorite child, and love myself, no matter what: my value is not derived from my actions, but from my essence.

I know this will be hard, so I will forgive myself when I screw up, when I judge, and when I get distracted. I’m going to love my life like I love baseball, like I love doing therapy: deeply and indiscriminately, but lightly. Like baseball, loving my life will be hard, but fun. Yes, I dare use the word ‘fun’, because anything you love deeply enough is fun. And crazy. And unexpected. And that’s why it’s fun, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but you relish it – you relish it all, come what may.

As someone once said,

Your life is not your master.
It is your child.

So treat it as a beloved child: accept it fully, and hold it dear.

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Okay, I’m done here now.

Tomorrow, I get on that plane and come home. Come what may: cancelled flights, missed connections, lost luggage, new friends, crazy stories, air pockets, smooth landings, seeing my family, my own bed, fortunes, misfortunes.

All of it.

I don’t know what you’re doing tomorrow, but I hope you’ll ‘take the pledge’ with me, in your own way. For what it’s worth, I’ve shared my way with you: I’m finally putting Life up there in the best possible company, with Therapy, and Baseball.

What’s your way?

I hope you’ll join me, and come home.

Play ball!

 

Note: All clinical vignettes herein are significantly altered to protect patient confidentiality and privacy.

The Goner, Part III: Mission Accomplished

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(Note: This is a three-part post. Please read first The Goner, Part I: Whistling Through the Grass, and The Goner, Part II: Blowing Out the Speakers)

I debated writing about this for a long time, back and forth in my mind. My ‘Goon Squad’ says,

People don’t want to hear this stuff.

People can’t handle this stuff.

People want to hear about hope, happy endings, and inspiration.

It’s too personal.

It’s too hard.

It’s too self-indulgent.

You have nothing original to say.

Well, maybe the Goon Squad is right, and every one of those things is true. But I always think about what Joe Dimaggio said when someone asked him why he gave his all every day:

There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.

I feel I owe anyone out there who may have lost a child, my ‘best’. Oh, and anyone who hasn’t lost a child, but might (yes, that means you, Mary, and you, Clyde). And anyone who has lost anyone, and is trying to go on, and make sense of life, make sense of death, or just find a reason for this whole crazy kit and caboodle.

And what is my ‘best’? It’s kind of like in A.A. – it doesn’t mean advice, or rules, or Ten Commandments. It means being willing to share my experience, in the hopes that some small part of it may help someone out there, because we’re all in the same boat.

The other day I was in line at the post office, and a sweet-looking older woman was going up and down the line, embarrassedly saying, “Anyone got a felt tip marker?”

Well, I did, and I handed it to her. She said, “Don’t worry – I’ll return it.” I said, “You know right where I’ll be,” and everyone in line smiled, because the Post Office operates on geologic time.

A few minutes later, she walked up to me (I was perhaps two feet closer to the front of the line), handed me the pen and, reaching in her purse, held out a dollar bill. “Here, let me pay you for it.”

I gently pushed it away and said, “We’re all human beings here.”

That’s the spirit in which I offer these words. I’m saying, “I’ve been there – and survived. Here is my story. I hope you can use some of it.” Don’t panic, I’m not going to go into gruesome detail, or really, much detail at all. There will be no stories about tossing and turning all night, or wandering down Broadway dead drunk (just kidding, though I did once take an extra Advil).

No, it’s just a story that could happen to anyone, but it happened to me, and now I’m sharing some of it so that when something happens to you, you’ll know you have company.

I know I could have used some, then.

And if you want to lodge a complaint with my Goon Squad, they’ll be glad to oblige you. See ’em?  They’re right over there on the Grumblers’ Bench.

What does it ‘look like’ to lose a child?

Well, to me it looked like this: My wife had wanted to take the boys (six year-old fraternal twins) to a relative’s birthday party in Modesto. When your wife is a Mexican-American gal with ten brothers and sisters, there are a lot of birthday parties. Me, I had no intention of driving to anyone’s party anywhere: it was a beautiful Fall day, and that meant the baseball playoffs were on. If I haven’t mentioned baseball before – well, it’s a big deal to me. Neither of the kids really wanted to go to the party, I think, but Nick was more insistent about wanting to stay home with me than Brett. Not that he cared about baseball – nope, no such luck with any of my kids. But he knew I would probably take him to the park to fool around together.

And as for Brett, well that was the whole thing about him: Brett was a good boy. And by that I don’t mean a goody-goody, no, not that, not by any stretch of the imagination. I mean he was a good person. He could see that Mom needed at least one recruit for this gig, and he would never let her down. Besides, he could have a good time anywhere, as long as there was people and action.

So they left. And we did go to the park and fool around together. In fact, we had a great time. Finally, it was time to go back home. As we pulled in to the driveway, I saw two people standing there, that shouldn’t have been there:

One of my wife’s aunts, whom I had maybe seen one time before.

And a cop.

Shit.

The cop said I needed to pick up my mother-in-law and get to Memorial Hospital, in Modesto – right now. And Nick needed to stay with the aunt. There had been an auto accident. No details – just that.

Crap.

Now I am going to skip a bunch of the details, because they don’t affect what I want to say to you, and because the details aren’t the issue – what it feels like is the issue. If you want to know details, you can contact me anytime and I’ll talk your head off – but now we’re getting to the important stuff, like why I titled this Mission Accomplished.

I can’t speak here for most people who have lost a child – everyone has a different personality. I suppose some people would have gotten into rage, or blaming (there was a lawsuit involved, against Ford Motor Company), or hatred, or utter despair.

Maybe some people would have said, “Well, we can always have another child.”

Maybe some people would have considered revenge against the ‘other driver’ – the one who caused the accident: I know I did.

Also, I wasn’t ‘there’ when it happened: what my wife had to deal with – the guilt, the helplessness, the mental images – was far beyond anything that was on my plate. I hear that most all marriages break up in these circumstances. ‘They’ say women need to talk, and that men don’t talk, and that that brings relationships down. I don’t know about that. I’m a talker, and I talk to people all day about ‘heavy’ issues, so the talking/not talking thing wasn’t in play for me.

All I can speak to is my experience, and somehow I suspect that the way I thought about my loss is specific to men. As you’ll see, that’s why I prefaced this whole thing with my experiences at the Veterans’ Hospital. In the film Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks plays an Army captain in World War II who is in charge of a company of men tasked with locating a particular paratrooper, just after D Day. At one point in their mission, they are ‘crashing’ for the night in a bombed-out church. It is the first time they have had a chance to stop and gather themselves, to talk and be human beings for a few minutes.

At one point, Hanks and his trusted friend, Sergeant Horvath,are talking about a man in their company who was killed some time before. At first, they’re laughing at the memory of some of the crazy things this kid did. Then, Captain Miller (Hanks) intones the name of yet another man who was killed, the same day they are talking. The mood suddenly shifts, downward, as he continues, with terrible pain and irony:

“You see, when you end up killing one of your men, you see, you tell yourself it happened so you could save the lives of two, or three, or ten others – maybe a hundred. (Pause) Do you know how many men I’ve lost under my command?”

Sergeant Horvath: “How many?”

Miller: “Ninety-four. (Pause) But that means I’ve saved the lives of ten times that many – doesn’t it? Maybe even twenty, right? – twenty times as many? (Pause, his face showing the devastation) And that’s how simple it is. That’s how you rationalize making the choice, between the mission and the men.”

It is obvious from the dialogue, and throughout the film, that, while Captain Miller wants to help win the War (after all, he’s in the Rangers, an elite unit), his primary emotional investment in this whole thing is all about protecting his men. He carries with him, every day, every night, the exact number of men he has ‘killed’.

And that’s exactly how I felt: through my ineptness, I had lost one of my men. It happened on my watch. I was a failure – I had failed Brett as a parent, as a guardian, as a protector.

He wasn’t supposed to know about Life – I was.

No, I wasn’t crazy with it: I knew that having allowed him to go to a birthday party in Modesto wasn’t ‘negligent’ – not in any real sense, but I still felt like I had been negligent, asleep at the switch.

Maybe I should have gone.

Maybe I should have been driving.

Maybe I shouldn’t have let him go.

Maybe . . . Maybe . . . Maybe . . .

In this kind of situation, you realize the crazy, happenstance quality of life: anything – anything at all, that would have changed the scenario by even half a second, would have ‘prevented’ the disaster.

If only this, if only that . . .

And this makes you realize the crazy odds ‘against’ something like this happening.

And that makes you wonder:

Why?

Why was my boy chosen for this insane spin of the Russian roulette wheel?

And that brings you back to your own ‘responsibility’. Am I being punished (by God) for something I did? Something I didn’t do? Maybe if I had been a better person. But if I have been a bad person, why was it taken out on him? Because ‘they’ knew how much I loved him, so that I would have to live with the unbearable pain of losing him, of being responsible for losing him, for the rest of my life?

You go through all these things. It doesn’t matter if they make sense – you go through them anyway.

You look at your wife sleeping at night – twitching, moaning, crying, whimpering out loud, jerking around, and you blame yourself, somehow:

It happened on my watch.

You look at your wife during the day, half-crazed with loss, pain, despair, and you blame yourself, somehow:

It happened on my watch.

You look at your son. Yesterday, he had a best friend, a soul mate, an other ‘half’. Today, nothing. And you blame yourself, somehow:

It happened on my watch.

I found myself starting to think about Victor again. Now, I understood: it wasn’t that he had lost his platoon, his ‘family’. It was that HE had lost his platoon, his family. He must have thought, Why am I alive, and they aren’t? What could I have done differently? If anyone should have died, it should have been me!

I thought that a million times about Brett: Why not me? Please take me! Make time go back, and take me, dammit!

There were things I couldn’t listen to anymore. One of my favorite songs was Moon River. I’ve written before about the songs that got me through the hard times of junior high, high school. One of them was Moon River. I don’t know – something about the lyrics was evocative in a way that really registered with me. But now – no way. Why, you ask? Listen to these lyrics:

Two drifters, off to see the world –
There’s such a lot of world to see . . .

To me, that was always Nicky – and Brett. Now, the words were just a hole burned in my heart.

There were lots of others. You realize, suddenly, that the lyrics to almost any love song can ‘apply’ to your child – your lost child. You ‘see’ him everywhere: cloud formations, shadows, children walking down the street, alive.

Like I say, now I understood Victor’s pain. And I started thinking of Brett as one of The Goners. He was the platoon member that I, as his commanding officer, had lost to enemy action. And, crazily, it helped. It felt like I had a kinship with Victor, with all the vets I had worked with – men who had lost something irreplaceable, whether it was their buddies or parts of their ‘normal’ selves and lives.

And it felt like Brett had company – honored company, The Goners.

And it felt like I had company, too – the vets I had worked with. When you’re in war, you change. Then, you have to come back – but you’re still ‘changed’. What do you do? You walk the streets feeling like a freak: you’re not part of normal life anymore, but then the ‘normals’ are not part of your life anymore either, or your memories.

That’s how it feels walking around when you’ve lost a child. Like nobody understands your pain – they haven’t ‘been there’. Oh, they think they understand, but they don’t – they can’t. They want to be nice, to help, but your pain scares them.

My wife told me a story about an encounter with a relative who asked her, “So, how are you doing?”

My wife said, “Okay.”

The woman frowned solicitously and said, “Just okay?”

My god, at that point, “Okay” was a fucking miracle! I remember talking to a colleague I saw on the street one day, a few months after ‘it’ happened.

He said, hopefully, “So, is it getting any better?”

I said, “I’ve read it takes about ten years to really get better.”

He flinched, visibly, then walked off as if I had electrocuted him with a hot wire.

Guess what: It takes about ten years to really get better. Sorry, folks, but that’s my experience. That doesn’t mean every single day is unbearable, until a sudden bolt of lightning strikes you ten years later, and you’re fine. No, it means you’re ‘working on it’ actively, all the time, for about ten years. Then, you seem to reach some kind of crazy peace, most of the time.

Still hard nights?

Hell yes.

Still depressing sometimes?

Darn right.

Still feel like a failure, a loser sometimes?

Absolutely – just not all the time, and not as intensely.

And, if you’re lucky, you eventually find your own personal ways to honor the lost, and keep their spirit around. You find that, in a way, you can ‘memorialize’ them by incorporating their best qualities into your everyday life, so that their life wasn’t lived in vain. In the case of Brett, a sense of aliveness, or pure joy in the moment, was his hallmark. I’m definitely not noted for any of those things, but dammit, I try – I try harder, now that he’s gone and can’t do it for himself, and others. And sometimes I succeed, for example in helping my patients appreciate, and even revel in, the ‘moment’, and then I feel that I have carried out the sacred obligation I owe to Brett.

As I’ve said, for some reason military things seem to come to mind when I think of Brett. Maybe because honor, duty, valor, courage, loyalty and fidelity were his strongest suits. He wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone, especially when in the service of someone else. One day, we were going to be riding the Skunk Train, a small old-time railroad in Northern California that we really loved. While waiting for the train, the boys and I were passing the time at a sort of restaurant and store near the station. There was one of those kids’ rides there – the kind where you put in a quarter and can ‘ride’ the horse, or car, or whatever – except in this case it was a locomotive.

This much older kid was riding it over and over, kind of giving Nicky and Brett the gloat, and flaunting the heck out of his hegemony over the locomotive. Nicky was getting agitated and starting to lose it.

I was almost about to say something when Brett boldly stepped up, put his hands on his hips and said,

“Get off, kid – you’re through for the day.”

The kid meekly got off and slunk away. Then Brett waved Nicky onto the train – not proudly, just like ‘mission accomplished’. He went through his life like a soldier on a mission – a mission to have fun, and to make sure everyone else had fun, too. There was a seriousness about him, a strong claiming of place, that was striking and unusual.

When he was five or so, I noticed him playing ‘soccer’ with some other little kids on the playground after school. They weren’t really playing by any rules – they were too young, and most of them were sort of paying attention sporadically and mostly goofing off.

But Brett was determined and focused.

Later, I said to him, “Wow – we should get you on a soccer team.”

He looked me square in the eye and said, “I’m already on a soccer team.”

That’s my boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: All clinical vignettes herein are significantly altered to protect patient confidentiality and privacy.

Cast Your Fate To The Wind

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I was one of ’em – those sweet, quiet kids who never really make the transition from elementary school child to junior high school dude. I never really understood, or bought into, the crucial necessity – desperation, almost – to be ‘cool’, to be sophisticated, to act like you didn’t care, like nothing phased you, like you were above the goings on among the hoi polloi, that you were hip, slick and up on all the latest. It always struck me as insecure to not ‘go with’ who you really were, to have to invent a new persona and act it out all day, every day.

Not that I was ‘secure’, mind you – I was a floating ball of uncoalesced gases, looking for a nucleus. But, for some reason,  I knew I wouldn’t find that nucleus in wearing Pendleton shirts, or being a surfer manque, combing my hair a certain way, or spouting the latest jargon. All of that seemed vaguely pathetic to me, like a 70 year-old woman dressing like a teenager. But me, I was on an island of my own – too bright to be totally out of it, nothing overtly ‘wrong’ enough with me to be a true freak, but of a caste so inferior to the cute girls and the popular guys that to even think of approaching their world was sheer folly. Not only that, but I was also too scared, and too sincere, to adopt some crazy ‘indie’ pose – a mad poet, perhaps, or even an intense, brooding, fake intellectual, perhaps wearing the same black overcoat and shades every day. Nope, for me, faking it in any way was out of the question. For better or worse, I had to be what I was.

But what was I?

Somehow, deep inside, I had a hope, however unlikely, that my time might come years later, in adulthood, when we more serious, sincere types might find our niche somehow, somewhere. Of course,  I didn’t have any adults to talk to about any of this – talking to adults was also beyond my pale – and besides, all the ones I knew seemed to be on some kind of grim, eyes-straight-ahead forced march towards a vanilla pudding life, with no questions asked, no alternatives considered, no independent thought allowed. On our block, in our neighborhood, I never saw adults show any deviance worth a damn.

Oh sure, there was Phil Little, the guy down the block who had some kind of crazy customized Packard that he had crammed a diesel truck engine into, that he revved in his driveway like a demon unleashed, as fierce clouds of black smoke billowed overhead. Then there was the day he almost burned down his house, trying to clear out his huge, weed-choked backyard  with a war surplus flame thrower. And, instead of the standard brood of children, he and his wife had two miniature dachshunds, Booboo and Boobette, upon whom Phil lavished his alcoholic love. But somehow, this wasn’t the ‘alternative’ life I had in mind.

No, this was it. The San Fernando Valley, tract homes, smog and heat, sameness, conventionality. I often wondered to myself: Man, these people went through the Depression and World War II for this? Shouldn’t all that have made them at least a little crazy, weird around the edges, shouldn’t they be swigging from open bottles on their front porches all night, or retreating to some crazy cabin in the mountains, with a goat for a best friend?  But no – apparently they craved “normality”, and by god, they had sure gotten it.

Mind you, the hippie revolution, the counterculture, drugs, and the possibility of ‘differentness’ were far in the future for me. Oh sure, there were Kerouac and Ginsberg, the beatniks, and proto-Goth girls dressed in black, sitting around coffeehouses and talking vaguely about Zen, but that had all been reduced to comic opera by the movies and TV already, where guys in goatees and berets beat on bongo drums while bohemian-looking girls swooned and sighed, “Ooh – dig that crazy beat”.

And, for anyone who doubted that deviation would be the ruin of you – well, you only had to remember HUAC and the McCarthy hearings. My parents were even terrified that the babysitter, a nice woman from obvious rural roots, would squeal on them for having a copy of Borstal Boy, or Love On the Dole, or some such suspiciously proletarian foreign tome, on their bookshelves, though the thought of this good ol’ gal having the time, or the literary acumen, to run a right-wing surveillance on our reading material was utterly ludicrous. But the paranoia was everywhere.

So what sustained me throughout this dark night of the soul? Music, that’s what.

Strewn in among low-brow fare like South Street, Alley Oop, Big John, Goodbye, Cruel World and The Peppermint Twist, were the occasional instrumentals – that somehow, miraculously charted big, proving, at least to me, that God hadn’t abandoned the universe, or even the Valley. That these droplets from heaven were actually valued by more than a few oddballs like me, meant that there was hope, that  I wasn’t entirely alone. Of course, there was no Internet, no way of finding out who these mythical, far-off people were, these living gods who had conceived and played these life-giving songs. Some of them were eternal and classy, some more down to earth and pedestrian, even raucous, but they were all…well, white kids didn’t have the word then, but later we would have called them soulful.

Two of them were, in my mind, Olympian – towering above the others like beacons of inspiration:

Cast Your Fate to the Wind – I mean, what more do you want? It’s all right there, and no need for words: thoughtfulness, reflection, beauty, melody, creative presentation, a change of pace in the ‘middle part’, and soul, baby. Hell, you could even learn to pick it out on the piano yourself, and get that same feel going, imagining for a fleeting moment that you were the mythical, all-surpassing Vince Guaraldi, one guy who, you figured, could really get away with wearing a beret and a goatee. I distinctly remember the first time I heard it, thinking, “Oh my god, where has this music been all my life? Why have they been holding it back, when I need it so much?” I mean, you felt like just listening to it made you cool. It’s still the all-time instrumental champ for me.

And then, later, when I heard a vocal version with actual words, they seemed, well, perfect as well – but then how could they be anything but, since, as far as I knew, they also were dispensed from Mount Olympus.

Take Five – Holy cow, some guy was hip enough to write a terminally catchy, swingin’ thing like this, in 5/4 time? And call it Take Five? Jeez, I mean, this wasn’t ‘College Bowl’ smarts – this was real-world magnificence, right out there in the open for all to hear. The three-minute ‘single’ version gave you just enough improv to flash true jazz cred, and still hold your interest every second of the glorious way. Again – just listening transported you, transformed you. If every guy who saw Casablanca came out of the theater as Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine, shrugging his shoulders and lisping, Dave Brubeck accomplished the same trick in three minutes flat.

And there were others, lots of them, from the late Fifties through the Sixties – glorious sources of hope and most of all, company: Stranger on the Shore, Alley Cat, Apache, Telstar, Last Dance, Tequila (oh, yeah!), Forty Miles of Bad Road, Raunchy, Rebel Rouser, The Lonely Bull, Green Onions, Walk, Don’t Run, Pipeline, Last Night, Out of Limits, Midnight in Moscow, More, Taste of Honey, Washington Square, Wheels, and more. They were there, whenever you needed them; they made you slow down and listen, feel things, they gave you a three-minute swim in a magical sea – they sustained you through the days and nights.

Sure, there had been special instrumentals that I had loved before, in my childhood: Third Man Theme, Moonglow/Picnic, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, A Summer Place, Blue Tango, The High and the Mighty, and others, but they were ‘old people music’, whereas Cast Your Fate and the others were ours: at last, something of current popular youth culture that I could claim, too, that wasn’t embarrassing, or stupid, that was not Perry Como, but also not Alley Oop (oop, oop oop).

So, thank you to the composers and musicians who held my hand, who bridged the sterile and frightening gap between childhood and college, for me and many others. You were my play, my song, my joy, my rock, my recreation, my belief system, my spiritual path and my companions through the hard years – you carried me into a new world where I once again felt I mattered, where what I had to offer had value, and things started to make sense again.

I did cast my fate to your winds, and you saw me through, in style.

 

 

 

Note: All clinical vignettes herein are significantly altered to protect patient confidentiality and privacy.