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If Only

There are other things besides the law, after all.

For seven years, we’ve published this blog on a regular schedule, but after losing a close friend to cancer last week, we’re taking a break again this week and perhaps longer. We’ll be back soon to cover civil and criminal litigation in the 21st century—in your defense.

In the meantime, I’d like to share one of my favorite poems from any century. It’s called If, published in 1910 by the English poet Rudyard Kipling. I’ve read it since I was a boy, and you may have too. It’s a beautiful rendition of a father’s advice to his son. I’d love to share it with my son someday.

And I dedicate it to my friend, who filled the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run.

* * * * * *

If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, or being hated, don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master. If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim. If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, or watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone, and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them, “hold on.”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue; or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch. If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; if all men count with you, but none too much.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute, with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son.

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