The Wonder of It

by Nola

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fiztgerald.

When I started with my firm 13 years ago, I was aware that my department consisted of five men all over the age of 55. I knew going in I’d face a chasm in my career if I stayed with this firm when these guys began to retire. But what I did not expect was for three of the five to die within two years of each other and for a fourth to retire in that same span of time.

Lately, with the most recent death weighing heavily on my being, I’ve struggled to make sense of my future — one that feels as though it has no net nor tether any longer.  While I wonder what the hell I was thinking all these years to leave me at this spot.

The thing is, my mentor that retired, he shaped the attorney I am today. I am 100% a better attorney than I would have been without him in my life for 12 years. And when he retired and I spent the next year under the tutelage of his mentor, I was pushed harder to be even better. Although I still feel I have lots to learn, as I know I was still drinking from the fount a mere two weeks ago, I know that if I had to do it all again, I’d chose the same path.

As I now work with some of the families of my mentors, I feel a gentle push from these great men one last time. Like this is their final test for me: Do your job as an attorney to help my own family. Do right by me. Apply what you’ve learned, what you know. I know you can and trust you will.

If I could remember what a religious moment felt like, I might say I was having one. But what I do feel is that my 13 years have been leading, purposefully, to this moment: To the day I have no mentors left and have to rely on my own best instincts. I still have colleagues and even a department within my firm. But I am the acolyte no longer. And it is my purpose now to do legal work for the loved ones of the very men who’ve so shaped me as an attorney.

In fact, I don’t know where my career will be in a year or five. But I know without question I am right where I am supposed to be right now, doing this very work for these very people. Giving thanks every step of the way.

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