The retirement was finally done, at least, insofar as closing the office. I emptied six rooms, 900 square feet, of all evidence of my 40 years’ occupation and practice of law. All the old typewriters, printers, computers, desks, chairs, etc. that were so familiar and served me well – gone. It’s odd the sentiment and attachment felt for inanimate things. The books, OMG, the books, the foundation of my knowledge, the tools of my trade, although some were just for show. All gone. The contents of ten legal sized four-drawer metal file cabinets were emptied into large bins which, along with more than 40 legal-sized boxes of files, were unceremoniously hauled out and shredded. It’s impossible to describe the emotions, watching 40 years of life’s work dumped into a truck and shredded. All those hours, days, weeks and years of work, rendered into tiny disparate strips of paper. Maybe they’ll be recycled and reborn as Starbucks cups. Or maybe birthday and get-well cards, printed on the back: “Made from 100% recycled career of John C. Chappell, Attorney at Law.” Having my routine ripped out has been more of a shock than expected. Life used to be: get up, breakfast, drive to post office for mail, drive to office, work, work, work, drive home, supper, more work or, with luck, some family time, bed; repeat, repeat, repeat… The vacuum created by the loss of routine and familiarity has been a shock. Don’t miss the profession, though! Don’t get me started about why I’m so happy to put the legal profession behind me. I’ll just say, it’s not the profession it was when I entered it.
Trying hard to become retired but neither clients nor judges nor fate is cooperating much. Days tick off relentlessly as the Feb. 28 deadline to vacate the office looms like a grizzly awakened from hibernation who has spied his first meal of spring. Deadlines imposed by indifferent authorities creep forward relentlessly, competing for time against financial challenges and puzzles that for years were content to lie dormant but have chosen this time to turn urgent and threaten dire consequences. Not to mention other obligations ranging from those spawned by dad’s demise to the grind of simply dealing with life’s mundane daily challenges. I take little breaks when possible to read books, a recent one of which took an analytical look at the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. The author noted that such things could leave you disabled or otherwise in a condition other than stronger, however much someone might argue about strength of character. So, I’d just as soon skip a third heart attack, thank you very much. Wish me luck. And, if anybody wants some impressive-looking law books to decorate their walls, I have quite a lot for the taking, as well as a few desks, chairs, etc.
Whenever I get this retirement behind me, I’ll likely add more thoughts about it here. There are several things I’d like to say about the legal profession, and about oil & gas, and about government agencies, and about politics, and about probably a few other things. For now, though, I just need to get this retirement thing behind me.