Wha-a-t? The title of the article took your eyes this far, so please read on. First, a lawyerly disclaimer: I am one of those pesky “the glass is half-full” people. That said, I’m certainly not touting the social benefits of this insidious disease. But I’m also a firm believer that our attitudes, energy and approach to all people, things and events has to be positive.
Now, you ask, what do you have to say? Well, part of what I have to say was written long ago. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay in 1857 titled Society and Solitude. He described the benefits and virtues of solitude, particularly how private contemplation can lead to enlightenment. There are links between Emerson and the transcendentalist movement, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance, intuition and feeling. My simplistic take on all of this is that solitude does not necessarily equate to loneliness. Solitude can lead to constructive thinking and reflection.
One of the great myths about the legal profession is that it is a quiet, contemplative pursuit. After 37 years of practicing, I can tell you that my legal world is fast and furious. But social distancing has allowed more time for more careful review, due consideration and (hopefully) well-thought advice for my clients. Since the middle of March of 2020, when the American pandemic response ramped up, I have noticed that both lawyers and clients have been more gracious, considerate and understanding. That is a positive development in a profession which can create or exacerbate conflict.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a social guy. I believe in team sports, group activities and a high-paced lifestyle. But I have been able to spend more time reading, reflecting and planning these past few months. I have also been cooking more, and saving money on foregone bar tabs. Although my health club is closed, I am probably exercising more.
Before all of this social distancing, our polarized political situation and go-go economy had led to increasingly selfish, aggressive and tribal behaviors. There is still a lot of that, but people in general (and lawyers, including me) are more courteous, appreciative of the simple things, grateful for the deeds and kindness of others, and more willing to consider the other person’s perspective and challenges.
Finally, the ever- present traffic jams have disappeared. Commute times (along with gasoline prices) are way down. So, remember the sun is always there behind every cloud. Your positive attitude and approach to life will help you, your family, friends, co-workers and community to weather this storm and move onward.
Go.Out.Side. Smile, even if it’s behind your personal protective mask. Find the bright spots. Live in this moment.