Field Notes from 34.1561° N, 118.1319° W — 2


A big bunch of years ago, I was strolling to get a cup of coffee with the Boss, an authentic genius and the founder and president/CEO of an extraordinary and worthy enterprise.  I am privileged to be part of the genesis of that enterprise back so many moons ago when the corporate population was three and the company digs were the Boss’ two-bedroom apartment.

Truth to tell, neither of us are the strolling type.  To the casual observer, it might have
appeared we were jogging.  This could be viewed as a peculiar sight given we wore
corporate attire of suit, tie, and shoes so shined that they laser-beamed the sun in blinding refraction.  But then possibly not looking so peculiar with nobody even noticing us.  The challenging fast-paced, marvelously chocked-full nature of life in our society that can seem at times to be nothing other than crazy-making can preclude our seeing anything other than our own tail-chasing myopic, me-Me-ME-constipated predilection.

As we sped toward the coffee shop, the Boss inquired about the co-owner executive of a stunningly successful company who had provided us with a goodly volume of business over a half-dozen years or so.  I had not recently done any projects with this man I greatly respected as a valued client, top-notch businessman, and terrific person.

“Didn’t you say some time ago that he was on vacation or left the company?”

“Yep, I miss him,” I responded, accessing that topical file of memory. “Hell’s bells, it may be getting to be close to a year ago now.  He left the company to go on a spiritual odyssey.”


“A spiritual odyssey.  That’s exactly the nomenclature that’s been used when I’ve asked people at the company about him.  He left the company to go on a spiritual odyssey that was going to take him to other parts of the world.  He’s in Timbucktoo by now for all they know.”

A pause.

“That’s interesting,” he finally said vaguely.

It is quite feasible the Boss had moved from that topic and was thinking deeply about a different topic or many other subjects all at once.  Geniuses are particularly annoying when they exhibit that characteristic propensity of geniushood.  But I chose to believe that his subtext inferred that it was actually NOT interesting, that he was being superficially gracious, and it simply sounded odd to him.

“Isn’t it!” I proclaimed too quickly, too brightly while choosing to ignore any subtext, real or otherwise.  Frankly, I found it not only interesting — but fascinating and intriguing as well.  And courageous.

Like the ancient Biblical saw about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread, I
unwittingly ventured forth:  “You know — like the lead character in my favorite W.
Somerset Maugham novel called The Razor’s Edge.  He like drops out of the mainstream
society he was born into to pursue a spiritual odyssey to discover himself, explore the
nature of reality, what it’s all about, find out about God – you know… all that sort of stuff.”

Of course I was being downright foolish in what I was saying because I knew perfectly well that the Boss did NOT know “all that sort of stuff”, let alone who the hell W. Somerset Maugham was and so for that matter The Razor’s Edge.  Now I was the one who had gone vague, quickly becoming self-conscious and uncomfortable.  I felt myself calibrating so I would not proceed to commence into chattering about a profound subject which I
considered a private, personal matter anyway.

“To each his own,” he shrugged, sounding patronizing and dismissive to my ear rather than my desired response of understanding and empathy.

It is not commonly known that when snapping turtles bite down on something, be it live prey or a stick, they are unable to release it easily because their jaws lock into place.  They have to chew on it to break it down and thus work their jawbones to release.  They cannot simply let it go.

Fools can be like that too.

“Well, yes!” I commenced blithely and unconsciously.  “I guess some people need to
venture outside of what can be considered the typical scope and circumstances of life to experience that quest or process or whatever you wanna call it of a spiritual odyssey.  You don’t need to do that of course, since you have the company.”

A long pause.

Foolhardiness knows no bounds:  “I mean, you’re a businessman.  As creator of the
company products, and founder of the company itself of which you’re president and CEO, you’ve embarked on your spiritual odyssey that you’re adventuring on.  So, ergo, the
company is your spiritual odyssey.”

Well.  The pronouncement I had just spouted off-the-cuff struck me as somehow
humongously important, critical, and Big.  I immediately wanted to get into the quiet of myself to think about it.  Then, I was very impressed with myself.  How about that for
thinking on my feet
, I thought to myself along about then.

“I don’t know about that,” said the Boss.  “I suppose that sort of thing is outside of the company, out here,” he offered with a broad gesture around us.

I wanted to commence about how totally, diametrically  “wrong” I thought he may be in
having that vantage point.  But really, it was an impossible conversation, stalemated by the fact that I shadow-boxing with ill-stated perspectives rather than concepts
mindfully considered and clearly stated.  Certainly too, the discretion of time and place considerations was, as the Irish side of my family tree used to say, “all aglee”.

Besides — we were entering the coffee shop.



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