I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. Bob Dylan
It’s certainly commonplace to do an end of the year post reflecting on what happened during the year and the highlights and lowlights. But in my case, 2018 was anything but commonplace. It was a year in which my world–professional and personal–was turned inside out and upside down. A year when the impossible, the improbable and the unthinkable occurred. A year I learned acceptance.
This time last year, I had a day job: I was a partner in a large law firm, practicing law as I had been for some 35 years, I knew –and expected–nothing different.
And if it wasn’t the most fulfilling work life, I convinced myself it was an acceptable shade of gray.
I had a nice office, plenty of support and two basic things to think about: practicing law and getting business. I went to work every day in a 7 year old gas guzzler just like always. And if it wasn’t the most fulfilling work life, I convinced myself it was an acceptable shade of gray.
Sure, I had thought about some fundamental change in my professional life, had talked about it with friends and day dreamed about what it would be like. But deep down, where the river of my basic set of assumptions about my life and who I was ceaselessly flowed, a voice kept whispering : not going to happen. Not something you will really do. Life ain’t going to change.
On the personal side, I went home each night to a nice home and family. Reasonably good health, decent private health insurance. Planned vacations and cruises with my wife of 40+ years. We talked about day to day things: taking out the garbage, how are the kids, what’s for dinner. The ebb and flow of everyday life. Safe, secure.
I heard and thought I believed all the banal platitudes
I assumed that that part of my life would go on in 2018 pretty much as always. I heard and thought I believed all the banal platitudes: things can change in a heartbeat, you never know what tomorrow will bring etc. But deep down at Assumption River, the story I told myself continued to reassure: that’ll never happen, things won’t change that much, at least not now.
I was reasonably certain that I knew everything, that certain things would never happen and that the path forward would always be pretty clear.
I was older then. I’m younger than that now.
2018: Into the Light
2018 turned out to be a year of cataclasmiac change. Due to a series of events and realizations, I made the giant leap from big law to solo lawyer and full time blogger in the course of a few short months. I traded in the gas guzzler and a 45 minute commute for an electric car and a 30 second walk to my office in the front of the house.
And whatever uneasiness I had evaporated on day one. Getting up and being only responsible only to me. Doing work I wanted to do. Being excited and passionate about each day again. Every day a day of new possibilities and changes. No blue Monday’s. No holiday return to work hang overs. Doing the unthinkable and leaving my lifetime profession…and having it be and turn out better than I ever thought it would or could be.
This and a fortuitous choice to become more diligent about meditation were in essence choices. Things I could and did control. Things I didn’t think I would do but did.
And a new first grandson to boot. Blessings beyond measure.
2018: The Dark Side
But there’s was dark side to change particularly change you can’t control. One week before I walked out of big law, my wife suffered a minor fall. Who would have known that that minor fall would cascade into series of events that ultimately lead to her moving out of our home and into a skilled nursing facility perhaps from now on out. A new normal. An empty home. An empty side of the bed.
A new normal. An empty side of the bed.
No more planning trips together. No more cruises or walks together. No more quiet dinners out. Our life together has fundamentally changed. Not to mention the huge financial hit: I never knew long term care-a cost I hadn’t planned for or insured against would be so much. Never thought this would happen particularly at a relatively young age. Shit happens: another cute cliche that doesn’t mean much until it happens.
So now I find myself leading on the one hand a work life more joyful and fulfilling than I ever thought possible. But on the other: a new, bleaker and lonelier life. Not traveling together or spending quiet nights at home but visiting a skilled nursing facility daily. Negotiating and managing health care. Hoping and worrying that I don’t run out of money to provide the adequate care my wife needs. And the ever present what ifs: what if I had only made a professional change sooner and my wife and I could have done some of the things together we planned-and share in the new joy. What if I had planned better financially for this storm? What if my health goes south?
What if’s do you no good; wishful thinking about what you want things to be won’t change them
But what if’s do you no good; wishful thinking about what you want things to be won’t change them. Much as I embraced my new career and its fulfillment, I now have little choice but to accept and deal with the darker change as well.
While I learned that what you think you can never do, you can, I also found out that what you think will never happen not only can but likely will. But I’ve learned that you can control how you choose to live your life. You can make choices to be fulfilled and happy. You can chose how to react when shit happens just like when good things happen.
When shit happens, accept it and move on. It’s all you can do.
Acceptance means not assuming that things will go a certain way and then judging them when they don’t. It means dealing with what you have and choosing to change what you can. If you aren’t happy and want to do something else, either accept that and do it or accept the fact your satisfied with being what and where you are. If shit happens, accept it and move on. It’s all you can do.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
Reinhold Neibuhr’s prayer is no longer a nice cute platitude. It’s now my life:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Thank you for reading my blog and my musings this past year and I hope you will continue to subscribe and put up with me in 2019.
And may you all experience happiness. joy and blessings in 2019.