This weekend is the fiftieth meeting of the Wellfleet Psychohistory Group. These doctors and scholars gather on Cape Cod every October when the heath and heather turn to their purples and rusts. They meet surrounded by the scrub brush of the National Seashore with a broad view of the Atlantic’s transition from blue to grey as it lets go of the summer sunshine.
The sea shore that is their setting was founded by Kennedy in 1961, only four years before these meetings began. My generation thinks of these woods and water as timeless nature, but this protection came partly through their life times.
I don’t know much about the historical significance of their work over the decades but it has ranged from thought reform to global warming, covering many of the atrocities of human behavior, all with the lens of the possibility of positive change.
This year the founder who is 89 will walk slowly to his office to be surrounded by his colleagues for the final time. The grey shingled salt box is the original house of the property, which is an antique structure. It has four simple walls and a beamed roofline, which was surely vaulted to the Pilgrims. One short wall features an enormous stone fireplace, the other floor to ceiling books. The long wall which faces east reveals the ocean and its spectacular sunrises through slightly warped glass.
His desk is a table too enormous to move out, so as the attendees gather their rented chairs will part to allow room for this substantial surface. Without ever having been I can see them there, listening and learning, pontificating and planning, focusing on a world they will never live to live in.
A few months ago this meeting seemed an impossibility as the old man lay in bed in the hospital. Tomorrow it will host its last beginning. I am sure the content will be vital and relevant to today, rather than all of the yesterdays he has lived. This is not the final work he will do, but it is the last time he will do it this way.
I wonder what it feels like to let this go. How much will be looking backward, and how much will be looking ahead to the world of children yet to be born. Perhaps we need to let go to allow the next generation to grasp on.