It is my job and ambition to keep that invisible and easily cut lifeline free and supported in all parts of life .You never know what they will be, or from whence they will come.A young woman who had heard me give a talk, rang me up to ask if I would come to speak to the residents at a nearby Jewish home for the elderly.I saw in my diary that I was free on the afternoon of the date she mentioned, but I was engaged with so many other projects, including a concert on the weekend, that I knew it was foolish to add one more thing.However, the memory of my father living out the end of his life in an institution like this one overrode my common sense, and I accepted the invitation.The day arrived without my having given it further thought, and now the pressure was even greater than I had feared.I had just flown into Boston from Washington that morning, and with talks, lectures, classes, and a concert to prepare, the last thing in the world I thought I needed was to waste a precious afternoon with a bunch of old people.I made an attempt to cancel the engagement, but the young woman expressed such disappointment on behalf of the residents that, once again, remembering my father, I agreed to come .The talk was to begin at two.Only one person was sitting in the fifth row of a bank of folding chairs when I walked into the rather dingy hall at ten minutes to two.She identified herself as Sarah.I chatted with her a moment and then asked her to move up to a seat nearer the front.Sarah stood her ground.I always sit here, she said.I briefly considered the odds that no one else would arrive, and that I had put aside so many pressing affairs to talk only to Sarah, but gradually, the remaining chairs filled.By shortly after two o’clock, a sizable group was ready to begin.The topic was New Possibilities.I told numerous stories, many of them about my father, who maintained Old World grace and values to the end of his life, though completely blind.My father had endured devastating experiences in his life—as a foot soldier in World War I, and as a man who in 1938 made the agonizing decision to move his own family from Germany to England, leaving his reluctant mother and aunts behind.The women who refused to leave were killed in the camps.I once asked him why he wasn’t angry.He said, I discovered a person cannot live a full life under the shadow of bitterness. Indeed, he won the affection of the residents and staff of his own senior center, Croham Leigh, because of his ability to throw a new light on any situation.He was lying on his bed, devoid of all capacities except his ability to hear and to speak and his sense of humor.My brother Luke, who was his doctor, entered the room and announced his presence.Is there anything I can do to help? and faintly chuckled.Those may well have been his last words.He died that evening.We talked of many things that afternoon in the home for the elderly in Boston.We challenged assumptions about old age and pointed toward some new beginnings.At half past three, I opened the floor to questions.One lady asked in a heavy German Jewish accent, Vy do you bother to come here?You’re a talented young man.Vy do you vaste your time vit a bunch of old people like us?Quite taken aback, I confessed that earlier in the day, I had asked myself exactly the same question.But so much has happened since then .I searched for words to explain the intense involvement, the excitement, and the peace I felt at that moment.My eyes lit on Sarah.When I walked in here, Sarah was in the fifth row, and now she is in the fourth! And Sarah stood, raised her fist, and cried, You ain’t seen nothing yet!I just got started! Then all of us began to clap, and we clapped and clapped and clapped.The applause went far beyond the point of clapping for Sarah.We were clapping for the joy of being alive.As I walked out of that room, the clock said ten minutes to four.I was walking on air, and I had time for everything.The whole experience was one of radiating possibility.Later, I remembered a parable my father used to tell that speaks of our limited understanding of the nature of the gifts the universe holds in store for us.Four young men sit by the bedside of their dying father.The old man, with his last breath, tells them there is a huge treasure buried in the family fields.The sons crowd around him crying, Where, where? but it is too late.The day after the funeral and for many days to come, the young men go out with their picks and shovels and turn the soil, digging deeply into the ground from one end of each field to the other.They find nothing and, bitterly disappointed, abandon the search.The next season the farm has its best harvest ever.A conductor can be easily seduced by the public’s extraordinary attention to his unique offering and come to believe that he is personally superior.Where to? It doesn’t matter, said von Karajan impatiently.Yet in the music business, as in all walks of life, a leader who feels he is superior is likely to suppress the voices of the very people on whom he must rely to deliver his vision alive and kicking.It may seem strange to the orchestral musician that the corporate world would be interested in hearing a conductor’s views on leadership or that the metaphor of the orchestra is so frequently used in the literature of leadership because, in fact, the profession of conductor is one of the last bastions of totalitarianism in the civilized world!There is a famous tale of Toscanini, the great Italian maestro, whose temper and blatantly autocratic ways—as much as his transcendent musicianship—were the stuff of legend.It is too late to apologize!