Ten uninterrupted years have passed since my first Open Bar column; a full and full-on decade by any measure. Originally conceived to provide insider insight into the legal system, this column has morphed into an eclectic collection of targeted essays, random fiction, esoteric poetry, and generally an output for the vortex of thoughts that relentlessly consumes my brain. Immensely privileged to be indulged by those who take the time to read my writing, I sit here a decade hence both the same person at my core and fundamentally altered by the experience of sharing myself with the Valley and those beyond.
Although I have very specific and very intense views as to how this world should operate, I do not share these overtly in this column. I have viewed my role herein as an explicator of the middle ground, the identifier of opportunity for compromise, the proselytizer of a more sane way of existence. With our media awash in aggressively antagonistic diatribes, I have attempted to impart a more subtle perspective. Continuing to believe that this method is worthy, I nonetheless harbor tremendous guilt that I have not spoken out directly on the myriad lunacies that have consumed our society. For, in the end, I have rambled on as the world within and around our precious community crumbles. That is not much of a legacy.
Sure, I am only one very sensitive, often unrealistic man, but I have an innate sense that I can and should do more. Despite having this outlet of some minor prominence, I have utterly failed to make a large-scale impact on the travails of this Valley, let alone the globe. This defeat brings lamentation, recrimination, but also motivation. I am not dead yet, but I may soon be if I cannot reconcile the pulsing internal dichotomy between the rational view of measured moderation and the vertiginous pull of fiery revolution. Perhaps that tension is the ultimate driving force: one can be a voice of reason in one context and a firebrand in another.
Open Bar has revealed these two contradictory impulses. While reticent to explicitly advocate for my social, political, and economic positions, I have been comically open with my personal life. Once a bit shy in this space, with the passing years I now lack the fear or sense or shame to pull any punches. In the course of these expositions, I have imparted the reader with a clear sense of who I am, but have, of course, gone too far, embarrassing and/or angering my parents, my daughter, my ex-girlfriend, and probably my ex-wife as well. With best of intentions but forgetting that not everyone is a ridiculous extrovert, I have shed light on those things that were conceivably best left private.
While proud to have the confidence to stand behind who I am as a father, son, brother, friend, lover, and human, I cannot ignore the pain and consternation that I have caused others in the pursuit of my writerly and other ambitions. More concerning is that I still have the impulse to mine all facets of my existence, because in those personal truths are also the universal ones. Not only does writing about these individual matters help me process them for my own sanity, it also may help my readers find some common ground, to close the distance between us caused by my overly florid language and inscrutable vocabulary.
Open Bar is a microscopic speck in the galaxies of written history, an ultimately unimportant repository of the blatherings of one ski bum moonlighting as an attorney and mediator. But, it is inextricable from me and, like my legal career, a destiny that I neither want to nor can escape. Please accept my anticipatory apology for what is to befall in this space in the coming decades.