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Anger, judgment, and peace

October 18th, 2013 | Posted by Scott in perspective and stories - (0 Comments)

Anger is everywhere.  I see it in grocery stores, traffic, doctor offices, elevators, soccer fields, and even church.  People are tired, frustrated, over worked, under paid, and rushing to their next event on their busy calendar.  Why can’t we just slow down?

Judgment of others is everywhere.  We all do it.  I try not to, but I do.  I’m better than I used to be about this, but I still do it.  Heck, I’m doing it now.  I judge those who I perceive to be judging others too harshly.  When I see the obviously angry lady in the checkout line, I think to myself, why are you so mad?  Calm down.  It’ll be okay.  And in that sentiment is judgment.  Maybe this angry lady was just informed that her child is using drugs, or has just been told she has tumor but doesn’t know yet if it’s cancer, or maybe her husband cheated on her, or she needs a new transmission.  I don’t know.   I wish I could help her. I wish I could just sit down with her for ten minutes, maybe understand what is going on in her world.  Maybe I could help her find peace.

I am searching for peace.  That’s an awfully difficult thing sometimes in this crazy world we have now, but it’s the most essential task I have before me.  It is my journey.  Through peace we find clearer thinking, better judgment, understanding of others, kindness and love.  The road to these things always runs first through our becoming self-aware and in finding our own balance of our many roles.  In years past, I did not even know what that meant.

I believe peace, self-awareness, and balance are essential for all of us to function as well as possible in our busy worlds.  And that is certainly true for the trial lawyer.   Through self-awareness comes genuine understanding of what is important in our lives.  I suggest there are universal truths here – that what is truly important is the same for all of us, and that we are all connected through what is truly important.  It’s not money, fancy cars, or big houses.  It’s birthday parties, days on the lake, walks on the beach, rolling on the floor with babies, coffee with parents in the early morning, Saturday morning breakfasts and afternoon BBQs, and sitting on the porch during the rain.   These things, and countless other activities that you might describe, are the gravy, the good stuff, the spice of life.

When debilitating injury, or even much more modest injury, touches a family, the “gravy” and “spice” suffer.  Often times, these good times are completely taken from a family.   A family is then left with a skeleton of their former life.  The joy is drained away, smiles are rare if not forgotten entirely, happiness is a fading memory, and each family member is left instead with worry and stress.   And to be sure, each family member suffers a different variety of the loss, but everyone suffers.  True injury litigation starts with a keen appreciation of these undeniable realities.  And this appreciation requires a level of compassion and understanding of the notion that some people perhaps can’t help but to be angry because of the circumstances in their lives and their failed journey to find their own peace.

But we must all try.  It is our journey.

 

The wonderful struggle

October 18th, 2013 | Posted by Scott in perspective and stories - (0 Comments)

I had a great weekend.  I worked in the yard and in the house.   The kids helped until I turned them loose to do their own thing – riding bikes, skating, playing with friends – as kids should do.  As my father did with me, I require my children to work around the house and in the yard.  I don’t spare them from difficult, tedious, or dirty jobs.  In fact, the dirtier, the better.  They moan and groan, of course, but they know they must work before they can play.   It is the struggle we all face and I believe it best to teach them these lessons early.

And then there’s Monday morning.  As every Monday, I wake early to swim before work.  Strenuous exercise tends to clear my mind.  And then, it’s off to work.  The relaxation of a great weekend is instantly gone as I return to the daily grind.  I’m not complaining, as this work is an integral part of the reason I was placed on this earth.  But it’s not easy.  I struggle with the usual difficulties of litigation every day, and suffer the anxiety and stress that comes with it.   And I worry about all the usual things, not just about work, but about things with my family.

And then I meet with clients, and am instantly reoriented to the notion that my troubles are fantastic luxuries in comparison to the typical plight of my clients, who endure hardships I do not know.    During a typical day it is not unusual to hear of a child’s disabling and permanent injury, leaving parents like broken shells and trying just to hold on.   I speak with fathers and husbands so overtaken with stress and worry at their inability to work and provide for their family that they do not know whether to cry or curse, and often do both.   I speak with mothers overwhelmed with the daily trials of life in ways that I worry for their continued sanity.   I see children dithering along behind their near broken parents, the innocence of their childhoods left behind them like toys in a resale shop.   A man who has become my friend wept openly yesterday in my office as he told me of his inability to buy his son new sneakers for the new school year.  It is tragic to witness these things, but these are the stories of my clients’ lives, and they are mine to carry.  I am proud to hold them, and to let these stories tumble around my head until I find ways to put the pieces together in compelling stories for a judge or jury.

And so my problems, I know, are not problems.  They are blips on the radar compared to the storms my clients typically face.  They are my luxuries.  We are blessed in every way, and I thank God for my wonderful struggle.