Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Art of Stand Up

I had the opportunity earlier this week to spend several hours in the company of a young man who I suspected - at first glance - I would not like much at all but who, it turns out, is quite a likable and admirable fellow.  

I earn my living defending - in civil actions - those who others point to as the perpetrators of (at least) negligent acts that resulted in said others being damaged.  Think of it this way:  in the following scenario "YOU hurt ME!" I represent "You".  'Tis not always an exciting way to earn coin but it is pretty much all I know how to do.  After twenty years of doing it, I have developed more than a passable level of affinity in the doing of it.  Among the things my self-proclaimed prowess has bought me is being the "port in the storm" as it were for a significant number of nasty, potentially grizzly cases that one of the insurance carriers whose policyholders I get hired to protect finds himself or herself embroiled in.  All of them are catastrophic injury cases.  A significant percentage of those are wrongful death actions.  

As a result of what I do - particularly so in those cases - I begin the attorney/client relationship with the individuals I represent with a baseline understanding:  my client f*cked up.  It tends to move the discussion  rather quickly to "What can you do to save my a**?"  I love efficiency. 

Not everyone who I represent - not even those whose legal responsibility for what happened to the person who is suing them is clear to everyone (except perhaps my client) - is thrilled by my existence nor willing to accept responsibility for what transpired.  That is what has made representing one young man (he is not a kid but he is several years younger than either of my two young adults) such a pleasure.  He did a beyond belief stupid thing for which he accepted responsibility.  And for which he was incarcerated....at the ripe old age of twenty.  

His experiences up to this point in his life have aged him far beyond his years.  But they have also served him well.  He learned, through very adverse, self-created circumstances, that the most important thing a person learns to do is stand up.  Stand up and accept responsibility.  Stand up and accept the consequences of one's actions.  Stand up and examine your own life through the lens of critical self-analysis.  Stand up and be willing to do what needs to be done to ensure that you shall not continue to make the same mistakes over and over.  

If he could, he would most assuredly hop into Professor Peabody's WABAC Machine to a particular, fixed point in time and change one thing that he did, which forever altered his life path.  He cannot.  Instead he has done what all of possess the ability to do but too few of us possess the desire to do.  He has paid his debt.  He is now carving out a new path.  It may prove to be a more difficult path than the one he had originally plotted for himself but such is life.  Feel sorry for him not at all.  He has not wasted a moment feeling sorry for himself.  

The great Oscar Wilde once wrote, "No man is rich enough to buy back his past."  As true today as it was when he wrote it.  But what Wilde left unwritten was "One's past shall dictate one's future only if one allows it to do so".  That is a homemade nugget of wisdom I just dropped upon you....  

....Feel free to use it.

-AK 

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