New Years is a time when many make resolutions. Some resolve to quit smoking. Some resolve to lose weight. The list of resolutions is endless. Personally, I think many resolutions are pretty useless. I didn’t stop smoking because of a resolution (but I did quit… a few Novembers ago), and I have not exactly kept up with resolution diets. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with something appropriate to write about for New Years. The last thing I want to do, especially today, is sound trite. It’s not like you can simply “resolve” to get out of bad mortgage or you can “resolve” to get a better job when companies are laying off. But then yesterday, I had a surprise visit from an old client who helped my thought process move along.
My client went through a long chapter 13. At times, it was not particularly pleasant. But all plan payments were paid and the discharge was received a few years ago. Now, she’s dedicated to her business and determined to keep make it grow in a difficult economy.
During our brief meeting, I noticed something different. Was it the hair color, I thought? No. Did she have her teeth done? No, not that. Then it dawned on me. It was something more.
She was happy. She was smiling. While she was not a particularly unhappy person while the case was open, I think it’s fair to say the chapter 13 was not a particularly happy period in her life. But now, the chapter 13 case is behind her and yesterday she sat before me smiling, happy, and talking about the future.
As an attorney, while I try to get my client’s perspective, I really can only get so much. I can only put myself so far into a client’s shoes. So I asked her, now that her case is behind her, now that she is moving forward with her life in new directions, what were her feelings about the bankruptcy process now that she was “on the other side of it.”
She didn’t hesitate with her response. (I can’t quote, but I did take a few notes.) She told me that going through that difficult process allowed her to dream again. That now she could dream and that making those dreams a reality again seemed possible. Her dreams were no longer mired down in a chaos created by debt that had spiraled out of control. She told me that she felt freer than she had felt in a very long time.
The minute these words flowed, I could feel a smile growing on my face….and a bit of a lump in my throat. And then, it dawned on me: ‘this is what I’ve been itching to write about for the New Year.’
Many are looking at 2009 with a sense of foreboding and trepidation. World events are not exactly fueling optimism about the future. Perhaps 2009 will not be a year when dreams will come true. Perhaps things may get worse.
Or perhaps in spite of that, you can find a way to knuckle down, stand straight, bite your lower lip, bide your time, and get through a journey that brings you to the other side of it: a side where you can dream once again. I know it may all sound silly, but I know this place exists. Yesterday, I was fortunate to be reminded that for my clients in or facing bankruptcy, there can be a life afterwards. And that life can be wonderous. The only assurance I can give you is that the big smile on my client’s face proves that anything is possible.
With that, I wish you all a very Happy New Year.