were generally true to life?nIn considering dreams and reveries, one realizes that ournprivate amnesias are never permanent or complete, thatnnothing is truly lost to the human mind, though it is oftenndifficult to access the distant past or even recent experience.nEvery minute of every hour of every year is stoked withnimpressions of people and things, places, nature, spiritualnand intellectual experience. Every datum, every thought ornfleeting impression is stored in the brain and available for usenas a block to build a private world. Of course, the greaternpart of the material in the library of the mind is never used.nAs I noted in my journal for a February day in 1979, Inonce again experienced a special wodd’ while taking anmid-morning walk on the beach near my home on KiawahnIsland in South Carolina. A strong wind was blowing acrossnthe strand, but I was warm, as I was wearing a Navy aviator’sncoat with a thick lining and a fur collar. It was a marvelous,nsunlit winter day. I had the beach to myself, except for thenshore birds. I sat down on the cold sand along the duneline,nrelishing the quiet, the natural beauty, and the soothingnisolation. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up myntrousers, and walked in the gullies and the edge of the surf.nThe icy water produced a pleasant tingling sensation. It wasna perfect day, no past and no future. It was as though timenhad stopped and I was alone in the world. Yet I didn’t feelnlonely or in need of anyone or anything. That may be whatnit feels like when one transcends time — in eternity. Thenperfection of the world was all around me; it was completelynundisturbed. I was beyond worry, discomfort, or disturbance.nThe Kiawah experience belonged to a different type ofnprivate world. It was evidence of a real-life experience ofnliving on an island and of my fondness for that type of quiet,nisolated existence. The Kiawah experience also had in it annecho of my liking for a truly remarkable American book. ThenOutermost House, which tells of a year spent in an oldncottage on Cape Cod in the 1920’s, long before there wasnany crowding or spoilation on the Cape.nNot all these worlds are painless; for example, ournchildhoods may have been painful experiences, and revisitingnthese worlds can be traumatic. But there are alsonyouthful, private worlds that have a mixed character, worldsnin which sadness and happiness are in equilibrium, as when Inrecall the private worlds of my summers in the half-dozennyears after my father’s death — the early morning ritual ofnopening the stained glass front door of my family’s old housenon Schroon Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains,nand walking out on the porch to sit on the front steps next tongeranium-filled flower boxes and to watch the sun playingnon the waves a hundred feet in front of the house; it was anprivate world of stillness and profound peace. On thosenmornings I was keenly aware of my personal loss. Next tonme was the outiine of a large fish that my late father had cutninto the floorboards, a sign of the presence that had beennremoved from us. Those peaceful mornings helped mentolerate my loss and accept an emptied world to a degreensufficient for me to function.nThe relationships of childhood often fix in our minds andnform the basic structure of our lives. Until my father’s death,nmy world was totally secure. I never heard an angry word innthe home in which I grew up, and love and unityncharacterized my family. It was an extended family in thensense that our servants — immigrants from Scotland, Sweden,nGermany, Switzedand, and Slovakia — were integralnparts of the family and, hence, of my world. To this day Inthink of them and pray for them each day. Of course,nwhereas my childhood wodd was secure, it was not entirelynso for the servants in my parents’ employ. Though treatednwith consideration, they were subject to economic uncertainty.nMy sister’s nurse, Louise, who sought to keep mynsister an infant, had to leave when her methods becamenintolerable, though we kept in touch with her for the rest ofnher life. My Scottish nurse, Maggie, had to seek anothernposition when it came time for me to have a governess. Ournchauffeur, Anderson, returned to Sweden when my father’sndeath and the onset of the Depression made it impossible fornus to employ a chauffeur or even keep a car. All this meansnthat my private wodd of childhood did not correspondncompletely with the private worlds of the servants in mynfamily.nAs one grows, one’s private worlds multiply and becomenmore extensive. Every year, every new place, everynevolving network of relationships — school, college, youngnadulthood, marriage, parenthood and even grandparenthood—nopens new private worlds of the mind. In thisncontext, older private wodds may be reshaped to be madenconsistent with the experience of maturity. But one stillnnever loses touch with the private worlds of yesteryear. Onenmay enter them at any time and recapture their existentialnIn considering dreams and reveries, onenrealizes that our private amnesias are nevernpermanent or complete, that nothing is trulynlost to the human mind.nquality and even come to realize that there are manynmansions in the house of time. And it is even possible tonfocus on a single private world, one niche in time, whilenlargely ignoring the contemporary public wodd.nBoth dreams and serious thought about different modesnand forms of existence, such as the reverie on the winternbeach, are reminders of the potential of human existence.nTime prevents us from following all of life’s paths, butnimagination can take us where we otherwise could not go.nPrivate wodds of the mind suggest new and untried avenues;nthey establish and impose unanticipated new networks onnour daily existence. If we understood this better, we wouldnappreciate the fact that we live in and with a field ofnrelationships — with family, friends, work associates, andnstrangers, all of whom are part of our personal landscape.nEach figure in this landscape has his own landscape thatnrelates to but isn’t necessarily part of ours, and the points ofnreference on his landscape are different.nOur access to private worlds enables us to transcend timento an important degree. Even as one approaches old age, it isnpossible to experience the zest and excitement of thirty yearsnpast, and to see one’s friends as they were in eadier decades.nnnSEPTEMBER 1991/27n