Randy's Corner Deli Library

11 March 2010

The Good Old Days

As some of you may know, I recently became a Senior Vice President at Cove Partners, LLC, a 15 year old investment banking firm located a solid four miles from my present residence and which is run in the main by a really good friend who knows talent when he sees it, or at least figured I could somehow help grow the business, enough to let me have an office and a title where I could go to work every day, which I have been doing since January 29, six days a week, 12 hours a day, regardless of anything.

Note the date of my last writing here - the day of President Obama's state of the union speech and the title to my last piece - "Masterpiece Theater", January 28, in which I concluded at long last that everything was indeed about the money. Politics. Money. Sports. Money. Entertainment. Money. Business. Money. Lawyering. Money. Or should have been, a long time ago. Maybe at some point I'd not only (and said without a hint of arrogance) be the smartest guy in the room, but financially comfortable, too. Enough to give it all away and make a difference in someone's life. Not now. It's war. And I'm treating it as such at this point.

I've never before lived to work, but I am. It's about survival. And survival means work. It's all about the money and doing my damndest to be relevant and a solid contributor at my new position, one in which I am not forced to live by other people's rules and their perversions - the law and other lawyers force you to be someone other than who you really are - where I make my own rules and have to live with them, my only goal to be the best person and businessman I can be, consistent with doing the right thing. I am facing my first solid and real professional challenge in a very, very long time, and it feels really great. I seem to recall my Uncle Bill Cohen telling me when I was about 12 or so that a law degree could be used for a lot of things, and as I recall, Uncle Bill (whom I haven't seen in 30+ years) used his to go to work at a stock brokerage back in the early 70s, which is when my memory tells me was the last time I saw him or my Uncle Jim, both of whom I have great rembrances of and the latter of whom turned me onto The Doors and bore a striking physical resemblance to Ray Manzarek.

As I sit here and study a private placement memorandum and do research on a potential engagement, I've been listening to Slacker Radio's Classsic Radio station. If you haven't found Slacker, check it out. Whoever is responsible for putting together their playlists is a genius. The songs bring me back to high school and before, into the 80s and a bit after, when we all still had the notion that the sky was the limit: that as Americans, we were somehow entitled to believe in the dream that our parents and teachers had sold us along the way. Wasn't that the lesson we got from the free-spending, anything-goes, run-and-gun 80s?

When in a simpler time, when a kid like me from a single-parent household could actually think that he could rise up and be somebody. While it's still true today, it's taking loads of focus forced on us by the crash of 2008. Certainly for this liberal arts major, it's forced me to focus on what truly matters: Love. Mitch. Friends (the ones that come to visit you in the hospital and would, if circumstances forced it, come to visit you in jail) who have become family, and the notion that you better hold on to the love you have in your life. And if you don't have it, the fact that that's the only thing that really means anything. It's believing in what Rabbi Heschel called the ineffable - the magic of wonder at a pink and red sunset, things we would have, in olden days of perceived plenty, felt as if they didn't matter as opposed to those things that lay over the horizon, where the grass was greener, or so we thought. The grass is beautiful right here. Right now. These are indeed the good old days, the days we got kicked in the ass, woke up and had no choice but to figure out what was important and how to express it all.

We are so lucky to have each other to love, those people who care utterly and unconditionally for our welfare: our children, our wives, husbands and those who form the permanent landscape of our lives, whose absence would be devastating. Those without whom you couldn't go on, or don't want to. What else makes sense in this life? Since the disastrous operation and complications in my life of the fall of 2007 into 2008 into the present, I've been forced to consider the absurdity and randomness of life and the fact that there's nothing more important than right now. Hold on to the love you have, because ultimately that is the only thing that can give you true happiness. That and the means to express it. How do you show your love to the people in your life? Do you have true and excellent love in your life? Without it, what exactly is the point of this exercise you call your life?

Pain is certainly educational, isn't it? Listen. It's the truth calling.

Comments are welcome.

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