Summer's here, Supercomm's not, so take a break

Supercomm 2009 originally was planned for this week. It has since been moved to Oct. 21-23, and perhaps the trade show and the industry itself will be better off for the change. Still, it seems very odd to me not to be attending Supercomm this month, as Supercomm or some alternatively-named-but-still-the-same event has taken place every June since at least 1996, when thousands of us were sweltering in Dallas at the end of the month.

Through all those years, so many friends and acquaintances have come into the telecom industry and others have left. We have experienced at least one giant boom and two major downturns. Through all of that, the show for me always marked the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. Calendar-wise, it marked the end of the first half of the year (or at least came close) and marked the beginning of the second half. For some of us, it marked the end of the busiest time of year, the final major trade show until September, and the beginning of, if not a summer reprieve, then a period where you could relax at least a little bit knowing that you had just worked as hard and as long as you were capable of working.

As the telecom industry grew rapidly during the late 1990s, the idea of summer as a time of slowing down, enjoying your family a little more and working a little less, and generally setting aside a few moments to take stock of your life, became much more difficult to grasp. It became a crime to stop moving, whether it was to stop and smell the roses, or stop and try to figure out what the roses might smell like if you could only obtain them. And if it was difficult to find time to take that break during the late ‘90s, it only became more difficult during this decade. In this decade, if you stop moving, career endangerment seems immediate.

I thought about Supercomms and summers past last week after hearing of the death of Terry Barnich, the former Illinois regulatory official who I came to know mostly through his work as founder of consulting firm New Paradigm Resources Group. Barnich was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, having spent the last couple years there working with local energy industry officials, helping them to create a better future for themselves. I had occasion to see and work alongside Terry Barnich at a few Supercomm events over the years, and in the rush to talk about the big news of the show or to get to the next meeting, probably never once had a truly meaningful conversation with him. I say that not as a negative comment, but as a forlorn wish.

Too many people pass in and out of life. You never really get to know them, never really get to hear their story, about the wishes they have or the fulfillment that have obtained or still seek. You never get to tell them your story, about your own search for something, whatever it is. Summer is upon us again, ready to begin even though we're not attending Supercomm this month. Maybe we can take the extra few days we would have spent getting on and off of planes and walking around the convention center, and instead spend at least a little of it thinking about something other than the demands of work. Maybe we can again take a little more time to think about family, to enjoy our accomplishments and to think about more personal goals that perhaps we've ignored and might embrace again. Maybe we can take time to think about our friends and acquaintances who we will hopefully see at Supercomm this October, and the one meaningful thing we would like to talk to them about while we still have the chance.