I stood in court yesterday with a client on my left and a lawyer on my right and a judge in front of me, thinking, How can I bring the minds of these people to a point of harmony? On the far side of the lawyer, his client stared into space. The judge addressed the parties with an earnestness that could have been genuine. I leaned on the bar which held my file and stifled my sigh.
Three hours later, after a long session in my conference room with that client, I sat in front of the monitor in my office staring at electronic mail. The words blurred even more than usual and I drank water, hoping to combat whatever fog gripped my vision. My client had said, You’re so passionate about my case, I feel like you’re protecting me, and a warmth overtook me. That’s how you want them to respond. That makes the effort worthwhile.
At my Rotary meeting, I stood doing the one chore that I have since officers changed, taking attendance. I contribute in other ways but I’ve shrugged off the cloak of serious duty. The bright eyes of my replacement tell me that I’ve chosen well. I gave a few instructions and she’s making my former position as club secretary her own. Later in the meeting, I quietly encourage my friend Jenna in making her presentation, adding a few side comments which make her laugh. When she laughs, the room ripples with its answering call. She sits down, happy, flushed; her fifteen minutes have gone well and I am so proud to know her.
After the meeting, she and I share a meal and a spirits flight at DISTRICT. When the check comes, she snatches it and — wittingly, it seems — pays for both of us. I add the tip and we walk down to Betty Rae’s where I buy dessert. On stools in front of the window, we continue our conversation. I’m twice her age but she’s a hundred times more confident and relaxed than I will ever be. At one point the conversation touches on a mutual friend, and I say, I’m uncomfortable around him, he always complains about everything and everybody. Suddenly I realize that I have scarcely grumbled all week except a few times, quietly, when things out of my control went awry. Perhaps I am improving. I make a note to tackle that under-my-breath malcontent and offer Jenna a taste of my caramel creme brulee.
I fell asleep last night thirty minutes before the witching hour. As I drifted off, I remembered a little girl whom I tutored decades ago. I recall her looking at the clock and giggling, Oh, it’s eleventy-thirty! I wondered what became of that child, who lived in the worst kind of poverty, one room for a family of four, with a hot-plate, two beds, and a pile of rotting garbage in black trash bas. What becomes of such children? I asked myself this as drowsiness overcame me. Still so much work to do; still so many children to help; still so many lives to improve.
It’s the fourth day of the thirty-second month of My [Never-Ending] Year Without Complaining. I awakened to yet another dawn, so whatever my purpose in life might be, apparently I have not yet accomplished it. Life continues.