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364 Days

In the winter of 1929, a struggling, 25 year old artist and his wife were thrown out of the family home. He had disappointed his father for the last time. Making matters worse, due to his father’s influence, the banishment extended to the entire village. So the penniless couple were forced to venture far away, ultimately finding a tiny shack in the small fishing village of Port Lligat, Spain.


Determined to support his family through his art, this young artist persevered to follow his passion and just about a year later, it is from this tiny shack that Salvador Dali’s genius emerged with the painting of The Persistence of Memory. You know, the melting clocks.


There are many interpretations of The Persistence of Memory which to me means that there is no correct interpretation. And since I might argue that the meaning of art is whatever one wants the meaning to be, I would like to share mine.


The clocks represent, uh, time. But they are melting which is therefore an indication of the gradual and inevitable loss of the time we have. There is also a swarm of ants attacking one of the clocks indicating the never-ending attacks on our time.


And then there is the title, The Persistence of Memory. The memories that persist in our lives. The memories that persist in our souls.


So, with time continuing to melt away, the way we use our time is paramount to achieve the memories that we want to persist in our lives and our souls. There is used time, and then there is “remembered” time.


So, what the hell is the point of all this? Bear with me.


With a bit of time on my hands nowadays, I have been thinking a lot, for better or for worse, about my current departure and what direction I want it to go. (See: Anything_Can_Happen) I’ve made the list of “must haves” and “can’t haves” as I was instructed to do. At this point in my career, I should feel obligated to define these as the search begins. Compensation, Commute, Size of Team, Company Culture, Boss Fit, etc., etc. Yet, my mind keeps bringing me to something from my days as a consultant.


Consultants work ridiculous hours. 12-hour days were on the low end as client expectations of results, not to mention the enormous fees they were paying us, demanded presence.


One project was in support of a major bank’s technology department. A large-scale implementation and therefore, given its importance, the head of technology (we’ll call him Tom) was with us every day and every hour. We understood that this implementation was simply the next in a multiyear sequence of technology builds so, while we came and would ultimately go, Tom was there long before and would undoubtedly be there long after.


One night during a break for dinner, at approximately ten o’clock, Tom looked particularly exhausted. I asked him how the hell he was able to keep up this pace for all these years. His answer remains with me.


“Well Joe, for 364 days a year, I work fifteen hours a day, get yelled at, feel unappreciated and think about quitting. And on the 365th day they drop a bag of money in my lap. And that keeps me here for another 364 days”.


Wow!!!


All those missed birthdays, first steps, bedtime stories, peaceful nights with the family and overall mental health. Those precious memories that he won’t have and can’t have. Think about that. Can you imagine what I thought that night? Well, that remains with me as well.


“Wow!!! That’s awesome! God, what I wouldn’t do for a bag of money to be dropped in my lap someday!”


Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. Silly little consultant.


Sometimes I think I am just getting stupider as each day passes. My kids would attest to that. But then there are times that I am thankful for the bit of wisdom I have gained over the years (Hey! I’m not that old yet). The wisdom to appreciate the meaning of a not so silly little artist’s painting which was quite wise beyond his young age (remember this is my interpretation). The depiction of time, its limits, and its relationship to the memories we ultimately gain from it.


I stare at my list. If I do this right, I’ll have a better chance to make the most of all 365 days.


My pen scribbles a new requirement at the top of the “Must Have” column.

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