I always root for the gray-haired guy.
Mark Martin in Nascar (even though his sponsor was Viagra and their logo was splashed all over his car and merchandise – geez!). Chase Utley in baseball. And in football Brett Favre, which is how I backed into becoming a Green Bay Packer fan.
Brett had an amazing career, but when it was time to hang up his jockstrap for good he was enticed by another team to come back. It was not the come-back he had hoped for. That was a life lesson for me that I call the Brett Favre Rule: know when it is time to go. And then stay gone.
And the best time to go is when you are at the top of your game. Don’t wait until you feel nudges from your co-workers, clients, and others.
I’ve thought a lot about the Brett Favre Rule since I passed the Oregon Bar exam, especially with the swearing-in taking place tomorrow. Will I return to active practice? Oh, it is so enticing. Memories of past victories and satisfied clients cascade through my brain. Do I still have something to offer? Can I return to past glories?
But I retired for a reason. Actually many of them. Travel. Writing. Photography. And about a three and a half dozen other passions and pursuits.
To help figure all this out, I headed to the mountains this last weekend, all by myself. Sitting alone in the forests of the Cascades it all became clear. I needed to go back to practicing law. Until about 5 minutes later, when it became equally clear that going back would be folly. This continued, back and forth, the entire day and night.
Finally, watching the sun rise the next morning through the mottled pattern of green above and surrounding me, I recalled the Brett Favre Rule. The career I loved for 38 years had come to a right and proper conclusion. No nudges needed. A dignified end. Let it go.
Brett Favre could have chosen a different path. He could have used his skills and hard-fought experience to help younger players. But trying to be 30 or 35 again, at the height of his career? Not happening.
I think I still have something to offer. I have been told I would be great at mediating conflicts among and within families who are struggling with their businesses. I have done some of that work, and it is rewarding to me. It allows me to use the skills and experience I acquired as a lawyer to benefit others, without returning to the grind of practicing law. And I can take on limited projects here and there, without giving up the prime time of my life to travel, write drivel like this, and generally goof off. Along with pursuing those three and a half dozen other things I want to do. This makes sense to me.
So tomorrow, at 1:30pm in Salem, Oregon, I will raise my right hand and take the oath of office as an Oregon attorney, and promptly thereafter I will elect inactive status and retire – the shortest Oregon legal career on record. My Bar Admission certificate will find a hallowed place in a closet somewhere, along with my other dusty diplomas and certificates, a reminder of the 2-1/2 months of intense study of which I had thought I was no longer capable.
But on my wall, in a place of honor, I will hang something even more important: a photograph of Brett Favre at the height of his career.