A Facebook friend sent me a message last night asking me if I had retired from the practice of law and gone into farming. I had to laugh. I suspect that her question stemmed from all of the things I post on Facebook about how much I love my life living out in the country.
For me, Facebook is a place for friends to gather and share things. I don’t know about you, but the most enjoyable times I spend with friends are the times we talk about grandchildren, vacations and the things that make our lives rich and joyful. Though I have spent many hours comforting friends in time of need, listening to their sad stories, those are private times for solace and understanding, not times for public expression. Facebook is a public gathering place. I try to behave there as I would in public.
Yes, I am very much a practicing lawyer. I still devote most of my life to the concerns of my clients. I still lay awake at night worrying about the problems of hundreds of other people who are counting on me to save them, help them, provide for them.
I am a trial lawyer and proud of it. I represent the world’s underdogs. I see people at their lowest moments when they have nowhere else to turn. My work includes worrying over how a fellow human being, rendered disabled by a traumatic injury, will be able to provide the future.
Every day I deal with people who are working to defeat me, who have far more money and power than my clients have and the ability to game the system for their own advantage, the injured and disabled be damned.
But I don’t use Facebook to talk about work; I use it as a place to lift up others who may either be eager to share their own joys or those who are uplifted by seeing the world through hopeful eyes.
A few years ago I was teaching a Sunday school class to a group of middle school students. I was warned when I took on the job that they would be a tough bunch to reach. So I tried to give them clues to solving the puzzle of how I see the world so they could understand where I was coming from when I talked with them about the important stuff.
I brought in some photos I had taken around the farm, a whole stack, as a matter of fact, and asked them to look at them. I told them that I had taken the pictures myself and asked them what they thought. They were very polite and told me that the pictures were beautiful.
They liked the sunset shots, the sunrise shots and the pictures of trees and flowers. They seemed to truly enjoy the photos. And then I asked them to look closer and tell me what they saw.
It took a while and, quite frankly, with a little help from me, but in each of the pictures of a sunset, or a sunrise or of flowers or the woods, upon closer examination there was a baby bunny hiding among the flowers or a deer standing at the edge of the woods. There was a box turtle camouflaged among the foliage or a turkey in the clover.
What they began to realize was that in order to see something, sometimes you have to be looking for it.
The world is busy with distractions. The most important part of life is sometimes hard to pick out against the background noise of everyday living. The real beauty may not be that which you think you see upon first glance, but it might be more subtle, harder to discern and may from time to time require that you seek some help in order to find it.
I understand why my Facebook friend might have thought I was retired from the practice of law and was farming full time. I don’t talk about my work on Facebook, at least not in the way most people might at first expect. In order to see what I am really doing my friends might have to look closer.
I share the joy of life, the beauty I see in everyday things, the conquests of building my own chicken coop from scratch, my own harvest table from an idea in my head, and the bounty of the garden I raised not just because these things make me happy, but in a very subtle way to show people something many of them miss.
Most of my clients are struggling with some overwhelming problem and as such cannot see the beauty in the world around them, not because it isn’t there, but because they’ve stopped looking for it.
When I point it out I do so in the hope that they might then begin to see it, too. And in the process I hope they come to understand that in my view of things, the purpose of living does not come not from any one solution upon which so many pin all of their hopes, but rather from living a life in balance.
If that lesson is too subtle, my suggestion is to look harder. It becomes much easier to see the things in life you want to see if you simply spend more time looking for them.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.