Does that comma belong there?

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As a lawyer, I am annoyed by growing older.

At my stage in life, old age looms in bold relief, like a posthumous sculpture of some long forgotten lawyer. Thankfully, I’m not so close yet that my face is cheek by jowl with his stone one. But I’m close enough to catch a glimpse of the timeless stare in his eyes. Closer than I want to be just now.

When did this troublesome mess hit me?

The other morning. I was standing on the Green Line trolley when the 20-year-old woman sitting in front of me looked up, stared deeply into my eyes, smiled broadly, and asked “Would you like to sit here?”

And she wasn’t pointing to her lap.

She was offering to stand up and cede her seat to someone she thought needed it. At first I didn’t realize that. But when I turned to look behind me to identify the target of her offer, I found no one there. I puzzled over this episode for days, but never figured out how she spotted one of my kind so easily.

If your right index finger is twitching above the “next page” key about now, you must be in an earlier phase of life, the one when you can bury yourself in some important legal issue without a care in the world. Maybe it’s the third footnote of the fourteenth page of the draft appeal brief that is due at 11:59. Does that comma belong there?

For the moment, you can immerse yourself in your work, oblivious to the pesky growing-old proposition. And why not? You are (metaphorically) at the right age to hustle along the uphill leg of the trail with a 30-pound pack on your back, a GPS in your left hand, and three kids hurrying to keep up.

You miss the future that I am now starting to see coming up over the rise. The impending period of stumbling over the rocks and roots on the downhill segment with a walking stick in the left hand, a pacemaker in the belly, and one eye out for a good place to stop for a rest. It will be the time when getting my eyes to actually see the comma in that third footnote will be the challenge; forget about questioning its presence.

Happily, I’m not there yet. For now, I’m in between. Not yet stale like an old bruised banana or an “expired” box of “Pop Tarts”. I’m still grasping the complex issues easily. And putting my ideas into the written word with skill. Interrupted only when my outdated bladder prods me to trundle down to the men’s room more times every day than I care to count.

At this juncture, I can continue to relish the riches that a big law firm’s colleagues, clients, and challenges offer. And it’s a good thing, because I can’t take them with me.

Hmmm. Maybe I just won’t go.

Written by thinker

November 4th, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized