Sunday, November 06, 2005

Connections #2

I’ve still been thinking about our need to feel connected to others, quite a bit actually. There’s a lot of ‘mental’ time as you sort through things you’ve accumulated over decades, deciding what can go, and what you can’t possibly part with.

Yesterday was a very interesting day for me. Most of the items I’d been sorting though were left over from the days where Greg and I were attempting to build a software business that sold its products through a dealer network.

I found, and threw away hundreds of diskettes.. yes diskettes.. 3.5” disks, 5.25” disks… several hundred at least. Master copies of all of our applications, the Foodbank manager, the Poison Control Center Tracker, Cable Tracker, the Shutter calculator, LazerPrn, and on an on.

Developmental versions, beta versions and shipping master copies, all, at one time with considerable value, today most likely worth less than the diskette they were saved on.. At several times during the day I was overwhelmed with feelings and emotions about this stuff. I thought about the endless hours I (and Ken too) spent designing, developing, testing, refining and finally declaring it all ‘ready’ for shipment. There were literally thousands of hours, sleepless nights, grueling schedules and many, many arguments (with Greg) about what would become the list of deliverable product features.

I started feeling sad, depressed almost, about the time, how I’d wasted so much, time, energy and money on this particular phase of my life. How I would have been better off had I never embarked on that particular path.

Then something pretty amazing happened. I began to see that part of my life for what it truly was. It was a transitional time, one where, once again I reached for the ‘brass ring’, got to feel my fingertips touch it, only to have it slip from my grasp as I tumbled from the carousel. It was near the end of that period, where I was running out of money, (I’d spent every dime I had attempting to keep afloat while we got these applications into production.) that I began to take contract work that involved extended travel.

It was that decision that led directly, eventually, to my being here, in North Carolina, and married to Maryan. Had I not taken the path into commercial development, I would not have gotten that first gig in Nashville (they cited my commercial development as a deciding factor in bringing me there), which lead to the projects here in North Carolina.

So, as I was emptying out closets, unpacking boxes (some of which have been moved three ort more times without ever being opened) and going through all of this ‘stuff’ I realized that despite feeling a little sad, I was proud of having done all of these things.

I hung on to a few trinkets… a “Have Fox.. Will Travel” brochure we drew up, a copy of our complete product listing, some certificates and old business cards, and… my first ever published article!!

I’d nearly forgotten about it, or at least dismissed the possibility I’d actually find a copy of it, so it was sort of a ‘non-event’ … but I came across it, and some copies of it as I was unpacking and tossing.

Nearly everything else went though. In fact, I’ve tossed so much stuff that we’ve nearly filled (say three-quarters) a commercial construction site dumpster! It’s hard, even for me, to believe I had this much stuff tucked away and that by the end of the day today, we’ll actually have ‘storage space’ again!

So, what does all of this have to do with connections? A lot really, as I remembered the connection Ken and I had then, how we worked, and developed almost as a single person. We each knew what the other was best at, and usually, we each stayed focused on those aspects we were best suited for. Our individual components often came together almost as though they’d been written by one person.

I miss those days, and wish we could find that groove again. The world has changed though, while we could, in all likelihood, still develop applications that way, the market is not what it once was.

I had a similar connection to Al DiMauro when we were painting cars, we’d discuss the project and often would work on a car, or truck, without the other there, and yet, when it was done, it was exactly what we’d planned and no one but he and I knew where his work stopped and mine began.

There’s a special connection when something like that happens. I think it’s much the same as the one found between folks who have served in the military together. You have a common cause, common enemy, common goal, and a complete trust in the other person.

When Tim and I rode together for those couple of years our rides were like that. Sometimes him leading the way, other times me, but always with the same end in mind. The ride, in and of itself, was the destination. Where we ended up was a far distant second to how we got there. The ride, always looking for; a new road, new challenges, new sites to see, just relaxing and enjoying the ride was the point, the only point of the ride.

I think about joining a bike club, from time to time. I never do though as I know the only reason I’d join would be to find another person to share rides like that with. Then, I realize that I’ll never find another person ‘like’ Tim, he was, and is unique. Very different from me and from every other person I’ve known. Our only real bond was our love of the ride. He’s also the only other person (besides my wife) who actually ‘got’ that, got, that riding with only the ride itself in mind was the real deal.

I’d love to be able to recreate the connection Mitch and I shared as neighbors, how we were really more like brothers than friends. I’m sad at times knowing that’s very unlikely, but at the same time glad that it was that important a connection. That when we visited this past summer, the bond was still there, that we both remembered it, and missed it. Seeing Whit on that same trip evoked similar emotions.

It was shortly after that trip that I realized something important. These relationships, these connections, were not so much validations, as they were celebrations. We found commonalities to rally around that gave us an endless source of conversational material, as well as plenty ‘to do’ as well. Over time, each of the projects and the conversations we had in the process built a connection that has stood over decades.

While I miss each and every one of these people, the connection is still there, just being around one another again proved that.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re always looking to feel connected to others, not so much to feel ‘less freaky’ in our interests, but to truly be able to celebrate those things we love to do!

I’m off to finish up the ‘Fall Cleaning’ and wrap up the outdoor wiring project. I hope you all have a great Sunday, and, as always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.

7 comments:

Firehawk said...

Bill,

A really thoughtful article. Little artifacts you've moved a half-dozen times and never unboxed can really take you back. Thanks for sharing the memories that arose from your sort and toss project.

Greg said...

Oh my ...you know those things have infinite value ..."priceless" is the way the put it these days...
by the way don't throw out my case whilst you are makin' room for new memories!
Thanks bro!

Bill said...

Firehawk - They certainly did 'take me back'... and through a series of very mixed emotions. I'm glad that I came out the other side thankful for the experiences.

I have to admit though, knowing how close we came to 'greatness' and managed to miss it still haunts me from time to time.

Greg - They may have infinite value.. and be 'priceless'... but you, better than most anyone, know the time and effort that went into writing all those applications. I know I had, in the back of my mind, that it would all be useful, at some point... the fact is though.. the environment has changed so dramatically in the past few years, none of it would be useable today.

I actually found your case bro... and it now is sitting in a very visible position in the office. I think we need to connect soon and I'll arrange its return to you.

As always thank for stopping in guys, I appreciate you comments!

Vixen said...

bill -

you've been heard and felt -

as always -

Dixhurst said...

I have also gone through my treasure chest of memories and each time I do I look at a picture of two young people with their whole lives ahead of them. The picture brings back sweet memories of Flicks camp, a call from Greece and Sat morning arrivals.Memories I will always cherish.Your blog is priceless.

Trevor Record said...

I don't think that having your software become obsolete is anything to be ashamed of, old software lives on through new software that improves on old techniques and learns from past mistakes.

I've never really had the pleasure of working with someone where the relationship was like that. In all instances I can think of, we've always ended up pulling in two different directions.

Bill said...

Vixen - Thanks, (I think) and welcome to the blog

Dixhurst - OMG... if you're who I think you are... and there's only one person who I can think of who would remember those three specific things... We definitely did have our whole lives in front of us then... I hope you're well and that life has been good to you!

Welcome to the blog, stop by anytime!

Thanks also for the kind words about the blog, they are appreciated.

Trevor - I've had many of those 'opposite ends' experiences too... far more of them than the other actually. I think that's why I treasure the good ones.

You're just exactly right about the old leading to improvements in the new... I think that's true about a lot more than software though!!

As always y'all, thanks for stopping by!