When I am with fellow lawyers at meetings, many of my colleagues devote considerable time and attention not to the business at hand, but to receiving and sending e-mails on their BlackBerrys. In my view, such activity does not enhance collegiality or deliberations.
I do not own a BlackBerry. But not wanting to be left out, I have come up with my own hand-held device. I call it a GoyaBerry. (Patent application pending.)
Yes, Goya, as in the great Spanish painter, since on the cover of my GoyaBerry – a small spiral notebook that I carry – appears Goya's painting "The Parasol."
My GoyaBerry incorporates just a whiff of technology – a rubber band placed at the bottom to prevent notebook pages from becoming crumpled.
As my colleagues consult their BlackBerrys, monitoring evolving stages of multimillion-dollar business deals, I review the handwritten notes I have placed in my GoyaBerry. Let me share some of these notes with you.
Note 1: "Andrei Sakharov & Chekhov. "That's a reminder to mention Sakharov, the former Russian physicist, human rights advocate, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient in an article I am thinking about writing.
Chekhov wrote of himself as being "a young man, the son of a serf...." (His background was very different from the privileged backgrounds of Tolstoy and Turgenev.) Sakharov believed, as Chekhov had written, that every Russian needed to squeeze "the slave out of himself, drop by drop...."
Note 2: "Call Dimitri." I play basketball with Dimitri. I should call to congratulate him on the birth of his son, Malachi.
Note 3: "... and so content and so desirous of seeing the world." Those are words of an observer present at Goya's arrival at Bordeaux from Spain when he went into exile in France at age 78. How fitting to have an entry on Goya.
Note 4: "Le Havre, 23 August 1939." This place and date were provided to me by an authority on the Normandie, the great French ocean liner.
At lunch, I startled him by saying that I had been a passenger on the Normandie, perhaps on the Aug. 23 voyage, the last from France before the start of World War II.
My sister, age 5, and I, age 2, were in Paris. Our mother was stranded in Norway, where she had gone to deliver a lecture. The young woman caring for us took us to Le Havre. We boarded the Normandie. She returned to the dock for a farewell embrace with her French Army boyfriend. Before doing so, she deposited me into the arms of an accommodating woman on deck: Helen Hayes.
Many years later, I had the honor of meeting Miss Hayes. I regret not asking, "Do you remember me?"
The contents of my GoyaBerry have no financial value whatever, but this in no way diminishes their worth to me.