Dream of:27 March 1996 (2) "The Smell Of Rain In The Spring"
I was talking with Venable (a bankruptcy attorney in the Dallas/Fort Worth area). Venable looked like his normal self – a slender, bearded man in his mid 40s. We were talking about written orders which bankruptcy attorneys often had to prepare for signature by the bankruptcy judges. I was telling Venable that it was my practice to simply send the orders to the judges by mail instead of actually going in to have a hearing on them, and I asked him if that was his practice as well. He said it wasn't, and that he always personally took the orders down to the judges, and that in fact there was a rule which stated that the orders should be presented personally at the hearings. I thought he was probably correct, but I told him the judges had always signed my orders anyway, and I had been able to avoid losing a lot of time by bypassing the hearings. I thought to myself as long as I didn't receive any objections to the motions, I would continue to just send in the orders to the court.
Of course I knew I went to court less and less. I had stopped taking on new legal clients almost three years ago. However since bankruptcy reorganization plans usually lasted five years, I still had quite a few old clients whose cases were still pending. The number of cases was continually diminishing as cases where dismissed or discharged, and the actual work I had to do on them had radically decreased. However I wasn't yet completely free of them.
I also knew that after I had stopped taking on new cases, I had referred to Venable many people who had contacted me about filing bankruptcy. I liked Venable and I thought he was a good bankruptcy attorney and that he would handle the cases well. Now as I was talking with him, I thought about doing something else for him.
I recalled that about a year before I had briefly thought of doing a little bankruptcy work on the side with another attorney, Wheat. I had come up with the idea of contacting people who had defaulted on student loans and advising them that they might be able to file bankruptcy and either reduce the amount they would have to pay on the loans, or discharge the loans completely so they would never have to pay them. In pursuance of this idea, I had contacted the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Commission and by utilizing the Texas Freedom of Information Act, I had obtained the names and addresses of thousands and thousands of people in the Dallas area who had defaulted on their student loans. It had been my intention to then prepare a form letter to send to those people advising them of the possibility of filing a bankruptcy.
However the arrangement with Wheat hadn't worked out, and since I didn't want to tie myself down again by being the attorney of record, I had never sent any letters. I knew I still had the list of names in my garage.
It now occurred to me that I might give the list to Venable. I asked him if he did much bankruptcy work in the Dallas area and he said he did. Thinking I still wanted to ponder the idea a bit more, I told him I had something I wanted to talk with him about later.
I also had something else I wanted to give to Venable. I had some small pieces of sausage which were also somehow connected with the bankruptcy. I knew that since I didn't intend to continue practicing bankruptcy, I would also have no use for the sausage. I pulled out a couple pieces and gave it to him. The sausage was peculiar, and I was unsure whether it had any meat in it – it may have been made from vegetable protein. Venable was clearly interested in the sausage and he asked me where I had obtained it.
As we had been talking, we had also been walking, and we had reached a city park. I pointed over to some vending machines in the park and I told Venable that I had obtained the sausage from those machines. He seemed glad to know where to find the sausage.
He then turned to me and asked, "Are you proud of yourself?"
I understood the implication of what he was asking. He had difficulty understanding how I could just stop practicing law, and he wanted to know how I felt about myself now that I was no longer practicing.
I reflected that in an oblique way I had been thinking the same thing myself, although I hadn't phrased the question to myself so directly. I now saw more clearly that I had lost the pride in myself I used to have when I was practicing law and that I hadn't been able to regain that pride. I thought I wasn't proud of myself. But suddenly I sensed that that wasn't true. Although it was true I was no longer actively pursuing a legal career, I sensed that some new endeavor was coming into my life and that sometimes I actually was proud of myself. So I answered him, "Sometimes."
As we continued into the park, I expanded my nostrils, took in a deep breath through them, and I added, "I like the smell of rain in the spring."
By this statement I was trying to tell him I was now able to have experiences which I couldn't have while I had been practicing law. I had been too preoccupied with law to even be able to think about something so simple as taking a deep breath of air in the park. That had changed – and I felt better for it.
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