“The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
-- William Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice
Think before you speak.
We’ve all spoken in haste and repented at leisure. My Bubbi used to say “You are King over all your words until you let them out of your mouth.” I knew someone who had a large fish he had caught mounted on his wall with a plaque beneath it that read: “If I had kept my mouth shut, I wouldn’t be here.”
The news has been full of stories lately about folks who have regretted things they’ve said, or done, that were, perhaps, not very well thought out. This has been a historical problem as well.
“You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore—because, gentlemen, this is my last news conference.” (Richard M. Nixon after losing the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nov 7, 1962).
“I have no political ambitions for myself or my children.” Joseph P. Kennedy, 1926.
“The thought of being President frightens me. I do not think I want the job.” Ronald Reagan, 1973.
Re-order your priorities.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and began filling a large, empty jar with golf balls. When he couldn’t get any more into the jar, he asked his students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. But then the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He asked the students again if the jar was full. More cautiously, they said that it seemed to be. He next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the space between the golf balls and the pebbles. He asked once more if the jar was full. Now, the class warily said "yes." The professor then took two cans of beer from under the table and poured them into the jar, somehow finding their way into the jar. The students laughed.
"Now," he said, "recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your health, your friends, your passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car, your assets. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand in first, there will be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the critical things: Love your family. Play with your children. Get medical checkups. Appreciate the joys in your life. Take care of the golf balls and the pebbles first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. There will be room for the sand."
“What about the beer?” one student asked. The professor smiled. "Well, it just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers."
Read more and dust less. Admire the view and don’t fuss about the weeds in the garden. Spend more time with family and less working. Savor life, don’t endure it. Live in the moment and cherish it. Don’t “save” anything. Use the good china and crystal for every possible occasion. Dress up if you feel like it. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, see and hear and do it now. Call former friends and mend fences. Go out for your favorite meal. Write that letter. Tell your family how much you love them and do it often. Add laughter and luster today. Don’t take today for granted. Every morning when you open your eyes, tell yourself that it’s a special day. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.
Watch your finances.
We now are able to spend money effortlessly, without even thinking about it. Salaries are paid by direct deposit. When we shop, most of us use credit cards rather than cash. Our bills are automatically deducted from our bank accounts or charged to our credit cards, which are in turn automatically deducted from our bank accounts. EZ Pass pays our tolls without us ever touching our wallets. We buy on-line with Paypal or credit cards. We seldom write checks to send in the mail. It hardly ever feels like we’re really spending money. But we are. Make sure you do at least a monthly review of your finances. Look over your credit card and bank statements carefully. Create a budget and monitor your spending. Save for your kids’ education, your retirement, rainy days, fun adventures and vacations.
Be considerate of others.
Have you said “hi” to your mail deliverer? The store cashier? Do you know their names or anything about them? Whether in this season of Good Will towards Men and Women, or throughout the year, appreciate others. Be kind. You never know what burdens the people around you carry. Tip your server and others who make your life a bit easier.
We as lawyers have been given a lot. Give back. Volunteer through BAMC with our charitable organization partners. Donate what you can to those less fortunate.
Take care of yourself.
Decide when you get up each day what that day will be like. Keep your life in balance, with a mixture of work, family, friends, spirituality, play, service, etc. Notice and applaud all of your successes. Forgive yourself. Be patient with others. Stay mindful in the moment. Do something special for yourself each day. Meditate. Get a yearly physical. Exercise. Eat healthier. Drink more water. Embrace change. Look for opportunity in every challenge you face. Laugh. Surround yourself with positive, loving people. Listen to music.
An apocryphal letter home from college.
Dear folks: I’ve been accidentally shot, but I am slowly recovering. I am pregnant with my dropout boyfriend’s child. He’s dumped me and hired a lawyer to get custody. My tumor has shrunk a little, but the treatments are continuing. I totaled the car. Most of my passengers were okay, except for one who is suing you. Oh, and I’m being evicted from the dorms. Love, Mary. (P.S. None of the above is true, but I’m flunking chemistry.)
Happy holidays to all. May the New Year bring you happiness, health, and Peace.
“And do as adversaries do in law, Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.”
—William Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew
“If you fall, I’ll be there.”