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How Can I Be Sure?

It's a tremendous song by a fantastic band from New Jersey, The Young Rascals. But all respect to the lead singer, Eddie Brigati (not to slight the band's other vocalist and co-author, Felix Cavaliere), we can't ever be sure of anything, because everything is constantly changing. It's just the ineffable nature of things.

For some, that may be an easy concept to accept. For others, however, it's not so easy. As a point in case, I submit for your consideration the women and men who train to become lawyers (among whose number, I count myself).

How can anyone be sure of, say, a particular resolution or desired outcome? For many people, the answer might be to get a lawyer-- someone who understands the Rule of Law, res judicata, and all that stuff. That's what lawyers are supposed to do, right? They're supposed to somehow guaranty the certainty of a particular resolution, or desired outcome.

But certainty is a tricky thing, and getting a lawyer isn't a guaranty of anything-- ask anyone who has ever been involved in a legal dispute. The outcome is anything but certain. As a matter of fact, it's likely to be very much uncertain, notwithstanding the lawyer's best efforts.

Mankind's attempt to forge some degree of certainty in a world that is at it's very core, uncertain, is a real life Rubic's Cube-- no wonder so many of us lawyers (the embodiment of law) are skeptical of change and uncertainty! Law is the institutionalization of certainty and predictability-- it's the thing that stands between us, and the proverbial barbarians at the gate.

Need or want to feel sure? Need or want certainty? My advice is to focus on the little things-- the momentary things-- and don't sweat the big stuff. That may be contrary to traditional advice (don't sweat the little things, just concentrate on the big things), but if you think about it, the reverse of that traditional advice actually makes sense.

We all (including lawyers) need to reckon with uncertainty in life, and noticing the small stuff-- the ephemeral, momentary stuff-- reminds us that there actually is a certainty of sorts, even when everything seems to have gone to hell in a handbasket. It's like tasting a little bit of the good, with a mouthful of the bad.

Take that moment, whenever/wherever/however you can. In the midst of uncertainty, there will always be a few moments of certainty-- carpe momentum !


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