A young friend sent me photographs recently celebrating his attendance of oral arguments at the U. S. Supreme Court of a case in which his partner was a member of one of the legal teams.
He was justly proud of the accomplishment.
As I looked at the photos taken on the steps of the courthouse it brought back memories of my own similar experience 33 years ago in the early years of my legal career.
What struck me however was despite the milestone of the occasion and the precedent setting decision that resulted from that case, I could not remember the case name.
What I remember most vividly was the other first year associate with whom I labored to draft the brief that would be argued by a senior partner.
He was a quiet, erudite young man who seemed better suited to the hallways of academia than the cutthroat corridors of a law firm. Working together we developed respect for each other borne from our mutual love of literature. We were relatively close for a few years until his termination, during which I got to know his wife and two children, and learn about their privileged backgrounds.
In the years that followed I lost touch with him though I heard tidbits of news of his life spiraling downwards. He became divorced, developed health problems, and appeared to be suffering from depression. One day I heard that he had died from a heart attack, though more likely it was from heart break.
I have never been able to think of our legal accomplishment without the sadness of our broken relationship. His community that should have supported him was too preoccupied with its own interests to care. And I was an integral part of that community.
I read once that our diverse lives are like musical instruments. If we play our individual tunes without regard or reference to the others we create discordance and disharmony.
When we play together we create beauty and harmony.
Time and hindsight has proven to me that it is the relationships we create as we endeavor to achieve that are meaningful, often far more so than the achievement itself.
It is up to each of us to decide if we want to put forth the effort to create together the beautiful harmonies that the music of life has to offer.