On Travels Outward and Inward

by George Anastaplo

(Hickory Humanities Forum, Lenoir-Rhyre UniversityWildacres Retreat – Little Switzerland, North Carolina – May 20, 2010)

My wife regrets that she is not able to join us this year up here at Wildacres.  For a quarter-century now, this annual visit from Chicago has been for us the true beginning of Spring.

For her, a return to North Carolina is particularly significant inasmuch as the Davidson side of her family has roots in this State, roots going back to Revolutionary War times.  So, in a sense, to come here is for her to come home once again.

But it is because of family ties that she is not here this May.  During the Great Depression her mother used to say to her, “When this is all over, I’m going to Tahiti—and I will take you with me, Sara” –but her mother died without ever visiting Tahiti in the flesh.

Recently, my wife, who is now older than her mother was when she died, decided that if she was going to honor her mother’s intention, she had better get a move on—especially if she was to be able to learn about herself what one can learn from such far-reaching inquiries.

It somehow seems appropriate that this pilgrimage should be during a major recession (even if it does not approach the Great Depression in its protracted misery).  It also seems appropriate that she should take a daughter with her, someone who is quite competent in making rather complicated travel arrangements.

It was not expected that we would hear from them during their three-week absence.  It can be believed, with some justification, that this is one of those situations in which no news is good news.

Our hope is, of course, that she can again be with you next Spring.  She should be able to report then on what she, her daughter, and somehow her mother learned both about Tahiti and (perhaps most important) about themselves.

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