September 18, 2014
Named as one of the “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”, Platt & Munk‘s (publishers) “The Little Engine That Could” was famous for teaching optimism. In visiting the Cape Poge Lighthouse (see previous blog post) I witnessed first hand the hard reality of what that story tried to convey. In the lighthouse the actual light bulb that was employed to send out the beacon was only 2 inches high. Only by the physics of the Fresnel lens was it able to be broadcast 9 miles.
After a life time of watching people struggle to achieve goals or whatever, I’ve always come back to the sobering fact that there is a two inch light bulb in all of us. The two inch light bulb is our self; the Fresnel lens is our individual personality. Albert Bandura championed this idea in his seminal work, “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change.” It is an extremely simple idea, so simple that, I believe, people discount it.
There seems to be a drag, an inertia, a governor that actively counters any forward movement to positive gain. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew Ch.26:41).
I believe that the soul of man is mirrored in nature, and to observe nature in its vastness and subtlety is to glimpse the soul of ourselves. Such was my experience of Cape Poge Lighthouse on Chappaquiddick Island.
September 16, 2014
About this time last year my wife and I sold our piece of Paradise on Cape Cod(see Blog Entry, End of an Era). Ever since then I’ve accepted the fact of moving on to other adventures, but the sheer beauty of that landscape still called to my soul. I still wanted to discover that kind of unspoiled countryside with awe-inspiring vistas.
So, this past month we went to Marthas Vineyard (not hard to get to from Rhode Island, just a quick ferry ride across Narragansett Bay and Vineyard Sound). From the outset I realized that the Vineyard was terribly compromised by tourist crowds and fashionable trendsetters, i.e., it was not a National Park. However, it still retained more pristine qualities than Cape Cod simply because it was harder to access and, of course, more expensive.
We chose to stay in Edgartown on the far eastern coast of the island. It was the quaintest of the towns on the island and retained the flavor of yesteryear, as it were. We were not disappointed. The streets reminded me of those in Europe where sidewalks really did not exist and barely one or two cars could fit at a time. The beach at Edgartown Lighthouse was easily walkable but was sited on a peninsula where one felt even more remote than one was.
Edgartown sits essentially on the water, and across from Edgartown (in fact, just 527 feet) is the island of Chappaquiddick. Chappy, as locals call it, sits basically unspoiled with only one main paved road, with all others being dirt, gravel, or sand. There are several dozen homes but these remain isolated and unseen, for the most part. The island is truly a world apart while being fairly close to civilization.
Chappy has always been a symbol for me. I remember the first I heard of it was on July 18, 1969, when Ted Kennedy was involved with the accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. As an aside, the incident was doubly memorable for me since Ms. Kopechne was Polish and was buried in Plymouth, PA, a town just seven miles from where I was born. The accident never really made any sense to me since there were too many inconsistencies and so-called contradicting “facts.” Maybe because I am at heart an idealist and liberal, I always believed there was a legitimately good reason why Ted Kennedy really was not responsible for the death of Ms. Kopechne. This could be labeled naiveté, but it is my segue into this blog post.
The Chappaquiddick Incident, as it has become known, is really the end of the 1960’s movement where Camelot reigned and flower power was in charge. At least for my generation it was the end of innocence. There would never be another Kennedy or Martin Luther King to grace our media with their eloquence and call to service and activity. In my mind Chappy melded and sustained that kind of innocence and unity of focus and ideals.
The photo above is of Cape Poge Lighthouse, which resides on the further most tip of eastern Chappaquiddick, literally land’s end, facing the Atlantic. What makes the lighthouse even more remote is the fact that to get to it one has to cross the infamous Dike Bridge (since rebuilt to be more secure than it was in 1969) over to a peninsula or barrier beach (if one wishes) called Cape Poge, even less accessible since one needs a four-wheeled drive vehicle with deflated tires plus a $180 permit to travel it (it is a wild life refuge). Needless to say, it is raw and unspoiled beauty. It brings peace to my heart knowing that with the passage of events and times, somethings remain untainted, and as they were meant to be.