Everyone could benefit from a legal mentor: a trusted generalist with some knowledge of the law.
Young people should learn as early as possible how to live profitably and yet be ravenous livers of life. Few of us know how to really live. We merely exist in a frenzy of activity, most of which centers on the accumulation of “stuff.” We go on making the same material mistake over and over until death knocks because we can’t escape our appetite for more and more garbage in our lives. We’re so focused on accumulating, assembling, disassembling, maintaining, discarding, storing, packing, unpacking, selling, fighting over, filing lawsuits about, protecting, securing, and transporting our stuff that we guzzle a lifetime before we realize the inanity of possessing much more than we rationally need. Then we awake in our sixties and suddenly realize that all of our stuff has stolen from us a large slice of what’s most precious about life: living it, living it with someone we love and loving the way we live!
Lawyers, of course, exist to help people fight over their stuff. I like to think that wise and weathered legal mentors, on the contrary, exist to help people live. Oh, if I were twenty-five again and just getting started, how different my philosophy of life would be. My wife and I started out in a small duplex. We had very little stuff but were blissfully happy in our state of lack. The older couple who owned the duplex and lived in the other side wanted to eventually sell it to us. Had we been patient, we could have owned it and later rented it out to another young couple. But no, we bought a house, a larger space that demanded more stuff to fill it. Instead of all that stuff, suppose we had purchased shares of Walmart and had the dividends reinvested for, say, the last thirty-five years? In the meantime, while people fought over all that junk at Walmart, we could have quietly watched our dividends grow. We could have read interesting books, listened to great music, danced, and smelled the roses more often.
Look around you and see what our culture has taught the children. They are bored of receiving gifts of stuff. They keenly observe as we collect and then discard the junk in our lives. We suffocate them with things and withhold ourselves. It cannot, of course, be helped. After all, someone has to do all those activities mention in paragraph one. When are we supposed to give ourselves to our children? Between TV and our junk, when? I don’t wish to bore you with statistics but American culture isn’t doing so well these days. Is it because our priorities are cockeyed? Sample a little late-night TV and you’ll be treated to perversions that, broadcasted thirty or forty years ago, would have caused widespread outrage. For all of you young parents out there, I have two prescient tips for raising wonderful human beings. Rather than shower them with stuff: 1. Gaze into their eyes for long periods of time and hug them. Do this as often as possible. 2. Get rid of the TV! Teach them to live and not merely exist. I promise you: This advice will save you time, money and heartache.
Jeff Barganier spent 2.5 years in a bank trust department, 2 years as associate general counsel to a real estate securities firm and 17 years as a financial adviser. Today, he makes his living as an attorney, writer and entrepreneur. Click here to read his full biography.
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The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Red Oak Legal, PC.