Walking Away From the Law

Spirit Bear
Spirit Bear–Great Bear Rainforest British Columbia

I have 269 days left of the practice of law; not that I’m counting. I will be fifty-six at the end of the year, which means I’m leaving the practice during my peak earning potential. I could go to another firm, or hang up a shingle and start my own practice; work as little or as much as I want. But I’m not going to do that. Like this lovely Spirit Bear, I’m going to meander away and find something new to occupy my time. She’s on her way to fish for salmon upstream in a pool at the foot of a falls. I’m going to make my way toward my own deep pool, filled with stories waiting to be written.

I’ve waited a long time to devote my life to a full-time writing practice. I started my undergraduate studies as a journalism major, believing I could make a living writing that way, and do creative writing as a hobby on the side. I gave in to pressure from my father in my second year, switching to the school of business. After obtaining my bachelors degree, I worked for seven years as a casualty claims adjuster, before returning to law school. I knew immediately working for a law firm was not a good fit. After four years, I began looking for a way out. I nearly took a job with an insurance company in Manchester, New Hampshire as in in-house lawyer. I fantasized about working less hours as an in-house lawyer, and writing  in the evenings in my cozy home, by the crackling fires I’d lay to keep me and the cats warm in the cold New England winters. Instead, I took a job with a law firm in Austin. An improvement over Houston, to be sure, but there were no crackling fires, and no regular hours.

I’ve done some writing over the years, but I’ve not been consistent. I’ve done a lot of starting and stopping on memoir writing, and novel writing, and essay writing. Sometimes it was the job that got in the way. And then there were the losses of my family members, in quick succession. Now, after practicing law for twenty-five excruciating years, and losing my brothers, my father, and my mother, I’ve reached a turning point. There is no one left to care-take, no more drives back and forth on Highway 290 to Houston each weekend, no more funerals to plan, no more ashes to scatter, no more estates to administer.

Now I begin the writing life I’ve wanted since I was a little girl writing stories in my notebook about Miranda and her horse. My creativity has been buried under law books and legal motions for decades, but I’m hopeful the more I write, the more I will be able to access that part of myself. Like the Spirit Bear dipped her paw in the deep pool at the foot of the falls and pulled out a plump salmon, I will dip my pen into the bottle of ink and pull out the stories that have been waiting for me all these years.

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