YAM Notes: September/October 2020

By Marty Snapp

Just when we needed it, cognitive behavior therapist Bob Leahy has released his latest book, Don’t Believe Everything You Feel, a guide to finding freedom from the anxiety and depression that are affecting us all, one way or another, in these trying times.

“Suffering is inevitable,” says Bob. “So the real question is are you living a life worth suffering for? What made me write this book is I often think that psychology can sound too glib and too dismissive – ‘Just get rid of these painful emotions.’ In fact, our whole culture tends to be somewhat dismissive about the meaning you find in painful emotion. I want people to understand that there’s another side of sadness. You feel sad about things that matter to you.”

Bob credits many of his insights to the courses he took at Yale. “Especially Richard Sewell’s course on tragedy. Did you know he was a former boxer? He had a great deal of influence on my thinking.” This is Bob’s 28th book, and he’s already hard at work on No 29, which is about regret. During the pandemic he, Helen, and the cats have temporarily moved from their apartment in Manhattan to their house in rural Connecticut, but he’s still ‘seeing’ patients remotely via Zoom or phone. “I don’t know when it will feel safe to be back in New York City,” he says sadly.

Meanwhile, Tom Goldstein, former dean of the journalism schools at Columbia and UC Berkeley, reports, “I continue as a journalism school administrator. I am starting my fourth year as the founding dean of the School of Journalism & Communication at Jindal Global University, just outside New Delhi. But my biggest news is that my daughter Blaze, after a gap year, will enter Yale as a member of the class of 2025.” Boola Boola, Blaze!

Dennis Jaffe writes, “Greetings from pandemicland! I had the mixed fortune to release my new book, Borrowed From Your Grandchildren: the Evolution of 100-Year Family Enterprise, a month before shutdown. I had started on a long, worldwide book tour (as much fun as for publicity) and was ready to head toward Asia whwn everything, every talk, workshop and event was cancelled over one weekend. I was crushed, but since then I have done scores of podcasts and webinar and whatever else they are, and the response to the book has been very nice. I do miss travel and plan to begin safely traveling in the coming months, but like everyone I want to be safe, not sorry.

“The book shares stories from the 100 large global business families that I interviewed over the past five years. It talks about how many families after creating huge fortunes have focused on their values and creating an impact for their grandchildren (hence the title). Their values and behavior challenge the prevailing view of narcissistic and entitled behavior in younger generations of wealth. While there are many other families that do not act this way, and some of the structural issues in wealth inequality are not addressed, this work gives us some hope that families with wealth can also act responsibly and be partners in creating the world that we want to live in.”

Mike Winger says, “I have been reading the recollections of departed classmates which now make up most of our class notes, and recalling my own time at Yale – especially my last year, finishing law school in 1972. That year I was a freshman counselor in JE, and had just returned from two years in the army to a college that, in my absence, had become coed. This was wonderful.

“In the spring of 1972 I met Jane Curtis, who was in her last year in the college, and embarked on a courtship which included, early on, a nighttime scaling of that spiked fence surrounding the Grove Street Cemetery. (You ask why? But what could be more romantic than a walk among gravestones? And we were young, and evidently agile (Jane was co-captain of the field hockey club that was Yale’s first, reluctant venture into women’s athletics).

“We married in 1973; I practiced law in New York, quit to earn a Ph.D. in the New Testament, returned to law part-time, also writing various scholarly articles about the New Testament; meanwhile, Jane went to medical school and became a pediatrician. In due course Emma and David arrived, and then, in the fullness of time, grandsons Henry and Curtis (now 5 and 3).

“Last summer, following a long decline that eventually confined Jane to sitting, lying, and moving about in a wheelchair propelled by me, Jane died. I can’t, and anyway in this forum need not, say what a profound change this has brought. Someday I will return to my partly written book on the Bible and imagination and finish it, but not right now. At the moment, the Covid-19 virus prevents direct contact with Henry and Curtis, but last night I read The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins to them via Skype. And so one gets by.”

Finally, Kit Ebersbach writes from Paradise, “Thought I’d pass along a nice thing that may be happening in my long, wildly varied career as a Honolulu-based musician. I’ve been interviewed by a Bandcamp journalist, who told me – Bandcamp gods permitting – that Iʻll be the subject of a featured Bandcamp retrospective article focusing on the forementioned l, w v career in music. This is actually the doing of a young Honolulu man who recently started a record label, Aloha Got Soul, with the initial intent of re-releasing what one might term ‘non-ethnic-Hawaiian’ Hawai’i music recorded in the ’70s and ’80s.

“He kept seeing my name cropping up as a studio player, and it piqued his interest. He asked to make my acquaintance and, long story short, decided to release some of my older and recent recorded work on Bandcamp, including a pile of my own not-so-commercial original music. Projected date is August, to coincide with a raft of releases on the Aloha Got Soul and the Kit Ebersbach Bandcamp pages. Anyone interested can download what they like for free with donation option.

“Meanwhile, I’ll try to stay alive and am hoping all of you will too.”