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Author Topic: Save Some Time to Dream: Tips for Staying Off the Edge, Courtesy of JM  (Read 5388 times)
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« on: September 12, 2011, 08:16:08 am »

American Inns of Court
The Bencher Magazine - September/October 2011 Issue
By Raymond T. (Tom) Elligett, Jr.

We should all have a passion—or at least an interest—to relieve us from work and other things that stress us. For many, music is such a relief. Seeing John Mellencamp on his “No Better Than This Tour” in March, provided such an evening away from briefs and conflicts. But reflecting further on the song list that night—and a few of his other works—provides some ideas on not letting the practice of law push us over the edge.

1. “Save Some Time to Dream”

If we really took this song’s advice to heart, it might be the only tip we needed. The lead-off song from his No Better Than This album speaks of reserving time to ourselves—not letting it slip away or be stolen by someone else. It continues with a litany of things to save time for: those you love, to accept your mistakes, to think before you speak your mind. Time demands translate into stress—a trigger for depression or more destructive behavior. So saving some time for ourselves, our families—and to dream—should be at the top of our list.

2. “Life Is Short Even in its Longest Days”

“Longest Days,” from John’s Life Death Love and Freedom album, is another thoughtful song. John credits its refrain to his grandmother. Not enough hours in the day is a common feeling, and even after a productive day, one may feel there are not enough days in the week. So realize tomorrow will be another day—and go home and enjoy some time.

3. “Life goes on, long after the thrill of living  is gone”

From John’s biggest “hit,” the 1982 song “Jack & Diane.” No doubt intended in a different vein at the time, reconsidered 30 years on, as we mature, the “thrill of living” may be reflected in things we might have ignored or taken for granted when younger: the first steps and words of a child, the first warmer days of spring, and for those still focused on work, reading a new opinion that makes your case.

4. “I fight authority, authority always wins”

The refrain from “The Authority Song,” on the 1983 Uh-Huh album, expresses a common sentiment, not limited to youth. But sometimes those representing individuals against entities—governmental or private—do prevail. And that helps keep the authorities more responsive (and honest) than they otherwise might be. That is the incentive for some who would weaken the system of checks and balances our judicial branch was designed to ensure. But that is another topic.

5. “Your Life Is Now”

From his 1998 self-titled album, John Mellencamp, the lyrics speak of seizing the moment, while you have a window in which you might effect change. The song also talks of taking the high road, and teaching your children to tell the truth. Thus, it recognizes a person’s (or generation’s) impact goes beyond what the individual accomplishes. The practice of law mirrors this—from the impact a precedent can have on people’s cases, to the lessons a young lawyer learns from a mentor. People can learn by example to be civil and ethical—or not.

6. “America, home of the free”

Part of the chorus from “Pink Houses,” another song from Uh-Huh. In context, the line was likely not intended as a positive statement on equality. But considered further, things are nowhere near as desperate as some talking heads on each end of the spectrum may try to spin them. Our county remains the paradigm example of individual freedom. These vitriolic windbags would not be tolerated absent such freedom—if out of step with the “ruling” party. John Mellencamp appreciates the importance of the First Amendment, as his “free to rock” public service ad shows.

7. “Vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico”

Another verse from “Pink Houses.” Perhaps not intended as advice when written, we all need time off from work. And you may find a correlation between the longer you take off, to the more recharged you come back. So take a vacation. And since traveling to Florida’s Gulf Coast would support our local economy, it’s good on that level also.

8. “What Say You”

The only song on this list John did not author, this 2004 duet with Travis Tritt sings of speaking one’s mind and sharing one’s point of view, but at the same time not claiming to have all the answers, always being right, or thinking I’m better than you. Whether in discussions in our legal world or in the so-called “real” world, recognizing that there may be more than one legitimate view can help us advance our client’s cause in the legal world, and help us avoid the edge in the real world.

9. “Right Behind Me”

From the No Better Than This album, John sings of the devil whistling in his ear, and the devil thinking”he’s got me.” But the singer is confident that is not the case. We all face situations in which we have choices—choices between taking the high road or not. Behaving professionally is always the right choice: no guilt; no time spent regretting or repenting; no approaching the edge.

10. “I Need a Lover Who Won’t Drive Me Crazy”

His first chart hit, all the way back in 1979. Self-explanatory. It applies to women also—Pat Benatar covered it.

Raymond T. (Tom) Elligett, Jr. is a partner at Buell & Elligett, P.A., in Tampa, Florida. Tom is a Master in the Honorable Clifford J. Cheatwood AIC and a past president of the Inn.

© 2011 Raymond T. (Tom) Elligett, Esquire. This article was published in the September/October 2011 issue of The Bencher, the flagship magazine of the American Inns of Court. This article, in full or in part, may not be copied, reprinted, distributed, or stored electronically in any form without the express written consent of the American Inns of Court.


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