Its mile five as I turn the corner, cross Bayshore Boulevard and begin to make my way back home. In the distance, I can smell the fresh aroma of bacon and pancakes from the corner café. The world is a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, smells and tastes. My heart is pounding through my chest. In that moment, the words of T.S. Eliot dance through my head as I contemplate the end.
When the day comes that I taste the sweet release of death, I can only pray it feels like this. Pulse pounding, blood pumping, and the world, an infinite escape into eternity. At mile six, I put my head down and exhale as I chant to myself, “Under ten Dom, keep it under ten.”
At six foot six and 255 pounds, running under a ten minute mile requires more than I should be able to give in this moment. I dig deep and contemplate the path before me while fighting through memories of the road behind. Every step. Every breathe. Every footstep brings me one step closer to victory and one more second of release.
Release from the world waiting for me back home. The world of the young lawyer where the realities of a nine to five life are a distant hope.
As I cross mile seven and finally allow my legs to stop moving, I look back on the week behind me. This week was a good week for me, as the young lawyer. I settled my third case since being a lawyer with Aronfeld Trial Lawyers. I successfully represented my pro bono client and friend before The Florida Board of Bar Examiners in Jacksonville. I worked a weekend. I should be smiling and on top of the world. But instead I find myself relieved to be blessed with the ecstasy of escape found at mile seven, not wanting this to end. Not wanting to return to that life where I am feeling like one of Eliot’s fabled “Hallow Men.”
But I know it will end. And when it ends, that horrible anxiety will return. That dreadful apprehension that no matter what I do, it is not and will never be good enough. This week I stared into the face of the life before me not with hope, but with fear. Fear that the road ahead is longer than I anticipated. And like mile seven, more than I should be able to give.
The hardest part about the path of the law is finding satisfaction. Finding the middle ground where we can acknowledge that we as lawyers have done enough. Because the truth is, it is never enough. When you spend your life dedicating your time and your energy for the lives of others; when other people – your clients – depend on you to do your job, you can never do enough.
However within this truth lies a contradiction. A contradiction which sits in the seat of my stomach as this constant anxiety and fear that all I have given is still not enough. It is the contradiction that in order for me to do enough, I need to be able to escape, to get away, to make it to mile eight. To let go. To whisper under my breath, “Under ten Dom, keep it under ten.”
Life is very long. But somewhere over that horizon, as the sun comes over Tampa Bay, I can begin to see that middle ground. That place where I will finally feel like I have given enough and that my sacrifice made a difference in this world.