I spent the past 10 days on the road in a bunch of different cities (New York, Bar Harbor, Boston, Westford, New York again, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, Owings Mills) doing a bunch of different things (stuff with MIT, our LPs, our companies, some friends, my partner Jason, Amy, and myself). As is my typical fashion, I didn’t pay much attention to the news while I was traveling – allowing myself one read through the headlines each day as part of my morning routine. This left my brain pretty clear to concentrate on the things I was doing and pick up the nuances of how people were thinking and feeling based on what they were saying and doing.
There is clearly an enormous amount of anxiety in the system on all dimensions. Based on the topics that came up regularly, I’d attribute this to the election + the credit crisis + the economic downtown + the massive movements of stocks, bonds, and oil + fear about the future + the endless amount of information bombarding everyone with opinions and predictions.
I arrived home last night to a pile of old stuff on my desk, including some letters that I had written 20+ years ago, as a result of Amy’s recent push to "clean out all the junk in her files." One of them was from March 14, 1988 to my dad that made me smile since even at 23 years old, I’d figured out that it’s the ride that counts. Following is the letter – the italics are my annotations from today.
I remember a sunny summer day about ten years ago (I would have been about 13). We were driving to Fort Worth in a white corvette (my mom’s car – my mom was really cool, even back then). You were about to deposit me at the Tut Bartzen tennis camp (I was a serious junior tennis player and Tut Bartzen was my summer sojourn for training). We chatted about the upcoming week as we zipped down the highway. I was excited about seven days of non-stop tennis; you were probably excited about seven days of not having to deal with me. However, for that moment, we simply enjoyed the ride.
I’ve learned from you that it’s the ride that counts. Today, I’m hanging out in my "eighties apartment" (at 23 I lived on the 19th floor of The Devonshire in downtown Boston), with my lovely wife (first wife – she turned out to be not so lovely to me), playing the academician (I had just gotten into the MIT Ph.D. program and apparently thought of myself as an academician instead of an entrepreneur at that point, even though I was both), paying my own way (always a high value in a jewish family – I was covering everything, including all my school expenses), and simply enjoying the ride. Without you, I might actually think some of this stuff was important. But I’ve learned from you that only the ride counts.
Its been a long strange trip, hasn’t it… From Spring Creek (my elementary school) to M.I.T. From Betty Wonderly (my favorite high school teacher – Biology) to Arzell Ball (a R.I.S.D. superintendent I had a huge public confrontation with my senior year because of his lack of respect for AP classes). From E.V. Scott (my first mentor) to Richard Weinstein (one of the early Feld Technology clients). From BAFB (Blytheville Airforce Base – where I was born) to 1 Devonshire Place (where I was living at the time). From Apple II (my first computer) to Fiverstar AT (apparently I was very excited about my IBM AT clone, which was a 80286 based machine for those of you that don’t remember or know what AT means). From Nike (the running shoes I wore in high school) to Reebok (the running shoes I apparently wore at age 23). From Jack Kramer Autographs (my first tennis racquet) to Futabaya (the tennis racquet I finished up with before I retired at age 15). From the Bowie Mustangs (back when I was a soccer player in 2nd grade) to the Dallas Marathon (my first marathon – in 1983). From "See Dick Run" (an early read) to "The Society of the Mind" (MIT related Marvin Minsky nerd food). What a great ride. Thanks for being there every mile – I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without you.
Remember, it’s the ride that counts. Get some rest and let go of your anxiety, fear, and anger. Look forward to every minute of this interesting journey we call life. And – if your dad is still alive, write him a letter; regardless of your relationship today it’ll make him happy.