I have been and avid essayist for much of my life. The urge to do so may have originated as my pleasure in writing letters, something I have done, it seems, forever. Some of those letters have gotten me into some hot water--especially those emotionally driven "love letters." But, as Popeye says, "I yam what I yam;" the emotional missives were true at the time--in the moment is better. The form is useful as a self-teaching device: there is nothing quite so deflating (and revealing) as an idea put to paper and worked out minutely. The written word also owns a value that the spoken word does not have. As actors understand, words thrown out orally fly into the world with almost no strings attached. Alexander Pope reminds us of the dying reputations of those spoken-of in their absence. It is the off-hand comment by a parent, a teacher a loved one that wounds deepest. Placing words on paper and reflecting upon them is salutory to all concerned.