Friday, February 11, 2011

Crisis of Faith

A crisis of faith?

Perhaps that is the wrong description. Call it more of a crisis of belief? I am sure that I could come up with something more clever and apropos this morning, but I am simply not in the mood. I simply do not feel creative.

I have decided I am done with the practice of law.

Unfortunately, the existence of my LW and the Horde kind of make the practical desertion from the practice...um, unpracticable.

But my heart is no longer in it. At all.

It is not just the practice of consumer bankruptcy, although I think that has a lot to do with it. I have tried for years to salve my discontent with the answer that I am helping people, doing good for people's lives, and so forth. But I cannot use that excuse any longer.

There are just too many people that come in and want to abuse and play the system.

There are too many people who come in, after having dug themselves into an insurmountable hole, and then blame you for their trials and troubles.

There are too many people unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions.

There are too many people willing to lie to you, their attorney, simply because they think that it will turn out better for them in the end.

And there are just too few people willing to give a simple "thank you."

Not to mention the lousy pay.

Need I go on?

A friend proposed that what I am feeling is nothing more than a simple mid-life crisis. I do not believe that to be the case. I do not wish to buy a sports car, or a boat, or have an extramarital affair. I do not wish to go back to school, or open my own business, or take up sky diving, or any of the myriad of usual things men do when undergoing a mid-life crisis.

I simply want to take my LW and the Horde, load up the Ford, stock up the trailer, and drive off into the mountains. You know, find a little meadow somewhere and just BE.

I simply want to be left alone.

I want to not worry through the night about THAT client: the one who comes forward mid-case to give you a case-destroying piece of information that they "forgot"; the one that blames you for all of the post-filing pay-day loans she took out; the one who somehow sees it as your responsibility that they have not paid their mortgage(s) in seven months but could afford the trip to Disneyland; the one for whom the office buys a Thanksgiving dinner who later tells the Court she has no idea who you are.

The other day, I had a client thank me for helping themn get back on their feet, relieving their stress, getting them in a frame of mind where they could work and be productive again, and basically crediting me for all the recent good in their lives. It made me feel really good.

The warm fuzzies lasted about an hour.

Until another client called to accuse me of falsifying numbers in his case, numbers calculated by a formula that Congress, the Justice Department, the Courts, and the Chapter 13 Trustees have all developed and forced upon me. I did that; It's MY fault that she had overtime for the past two years and, despite that fact, the overtime is not guaranteed and somehow should not be calculated into her anticipated gross income.

For every one appreciative client, for every client whose life you actually touch for the better, for every client that understands that you are helping them out of a hole of (typically) their own creation, for every "good" client I am inundated with at least 99 more that are lying, unfeeling, uncaring, abusive cretins.

Oddly, it is not the confrontation with opposing attorneys; there is very little of that in our tiny little section of the Bar. It is the confrontation with our own clients that has driven me to detest the very practice of the Law, driven me to taste bile at the thought of my office, and to cause near-physical pain at the idea of getting up in the morning and facing the day.

It is a practice that drains your emotions, that drains your Spirituality, that drains your spirit, and that drains your love for practically anything else in your life.

It is a practice that wads up your creativity and tosses it in the toilet, that causes your Muse to turn her back on you in disgust, that causes food to taste like sawdust, music to sound like noise, and simple, peaceful quiet to become deafening.

It is a practice that causes you to vent your frustrations--at other drivers on the road, at your family, at your friends, and at your employees. It is a practice that literally made me weep as I drove to the office this morning.

Believe me, if there was anything else I could do that would provide sufficient financial support for my LW and the Horde, I would be there in a heartbeat. I probably would only stop to fill one box with possessions; the rest of my office space can just go hang. But I have to be an adult about this: someone once said that you are not supposed to enjoy what you do everyday--that is why it is called "work." Well, I do not enjoy what I do everyday; I cannot fool myself any longer.

I am done.

But I am still here.

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