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.