Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lawyer-Turned-Writer Realizes Dream Despite Disease

Loss of Speech Evokes the Voice of a Writer: An Article on Lawyer-Turned-Writer Neil Selinger

My father has a favorite saying: "Life is short; sometimes, suddenly short." He said it a few months ago when the toddler-aged son of a family he knows from church chocked to death in his sleep, on his own vomit. The parents, of course, never had any warning that his death was coming, and they found him too late to save him. "Life is short; sometimes, suddenly short."

He said it again recently when a girl my family has known for years was involved in a fatal car accident in our hometown. Her sister is my age and was a friend throughout school; she herself was my brother's age and a friend and classmate of his. This girl was riding in her fiance's vehicle, on a main road in that town that they probably traveled on nearly every day, when it collided with another vehicle. She and the driver of the other car, an elderly man, were pronounced dead on the scene. Her fiance was transported by air to an out-of-town hospital where, last I heard, he was in stable condition. "Life is short; sometimes, suddenly short."

Today I saw this article on Neil Selinger in the New York Times Review of Books, about a man who retired early from the practice of law to concentrate on writing, only to be diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Undeterred, he writes on. I could relate to this author, mainly to the following quote: "He went to Columbia University planning to study literature, but practicality won out and he went to law school." I've always loved to write, but I also valued financial independence and security, and so I wanted to write while also working. I went to law school and into the practice of law with the goal of saving up a lot of money so that I could retire early, to just write, and travel. Looking back, that goal may have been a bit naive, as the law, as it has so often been said, is a jealous mistress, who is constantly dangling that carrot and doling out rewards for longer and harder work. Still, I don't plan to be a lawyer forever; I plan to be a "writer." Sometimes, though, I wonder if I'll ever reach that stage. I sent a link containing the article to my family, and my dad responded with his saying. "Life is short; sometimes, suddenly short." At least Mr. Selinger realized his goal of focusing on writing and other pursuits, before it was too late. Therefore I think his story is sad but inspiring.

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