Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Musings, 12 June 2010

Good morning,

A writer's greatest fear lurks in the frailty of the mind and the technology used to record the meanderings of the mind. At 6:45 a.m. today, I sat in Room 60/61 of Tan-Tar-A, a quiet half hour before start of the first Planning Committee meeting for the 2011 Solo and Small Firm Conference. I penned several paragraphs of this week's meager musings before I realized that I had no internet connection, and those paragraphs faded into the abyss of my iBook G4's temporary files and now cannot be found.

I look around me, and wonder whether those words adequately conveyed the sense of family that I always feel at the Solo and Small Firm Conference. This is the 15th conference, and perhaps my 10th. I've brought children, spouses and companions to this conference, and a time or two, I came alone. But I never remained alone nor did I become lonely. This group, which burgeoned beyond the limits of the Lodge and has now grown to a capacity that Tan-Tar-A can only barely service, provides something that I hope everyone who reads these words feels at least once, and, if possibly, annually as do I.

It is a sense of family, and I am a middle sibling. Not the oldest, nor the youngest; not the first, nor the most longstanding. I am a middle child in this family by choice just as I am in my family of birth. I find comfort here in the middle of my life, the middle of this group, the middle of the state.

Comfort comes to me as I drift down Highway 50, early in the morning, on the first day of each annual gathering of our growing family. In the 365 days between conferences, I read posts on the Small Firm Internet Group, the list-serve to which these modest musings are initially sent. I learn about my own practice area; the practice areas of others, and the lives of those who have or make the time to share. I laugh, I regale, I grunt and groan. I mention things that I learn from the listserve to people whom I know outside of the virtual world in which this group daily relates.

Some know that I resisted joining this listserve. He who browbeat me into participation well remembers how strenuously I protested his suggestion that I join. I'm not a group person, I told him. I don't do well outside of small gatherings. He ignored my repeated litany of rationalization. Just try it, he urged. Everybody has to have a place that they are welcome. We're solo practitioners -- we're small firm members -- we belong together, and you are one of us, even if you resist.

He does not need acknowledgment -- he knows who he is. Last evening, he sat across from me on the patio, at our large and growing table of celebrants. You've grown, these last few years -- grown as a person, he told me. His words humble me.

If I have grown, I can take no credit for it. This group enriches me; this group invigorates me; this group comforts me. Yes, this conferences satisfies my CLE credit, and provides the occasional opportunity to stand before a crowd and mention a few things about my practice area that might help others. I get to drink luke-warm Bunn-O-Matic coffee, my fresh ground beans just a whispered memory. I eat eggs, freshly scrambled due to my dietary disdain of sausage; and I slip past the bacon and the tough steak, and nibble at the cream inside the dessert.

But most of all, I recharge. I re-invigorate myself. My drained energy restores itself in the collective energy of those around me. How can I resist the allure of this place? This group provides the soul for my heart, and the gas for my discontinued Saturn. Here, and nowhere else, do I hear my name called up and down the hallway; here, and nowhere else, do people whose names I have seen but whose faces I have not, know my son's name, and his class standing, his joys and his sorrows, his triumphs and his trials.

When I am asked, as I often am, where I call home, I hesitate. Should I claim St. Louis, the metropolitan area of my childhood? Jennings, the town where my parents had their house? Kansas City, where I have lived since 1980, if you don't count five long years in Arkansas?

Looking around me -- at the magician on the stage, my office-mate in the chair in front of me, the men and women in the large room around me, I no longer wonder. I am a member of the Solo and Small Firm Committee of the Missouri Bar. I am a Missouri attorney. This state is my home, and these are my brothers and my sisters, and Linda O is our beloved Mom.

These musings have limited appeal this week, I know. But if you are not of this listserve, and are reading these only because I copy you each week, take one thing from this. Find a family, and call it your own. Give to it that which you have to give, and take from it that which is offered. You will never regret it, as I have not, and you will be a better person for it, as I hope I am.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.