I met with a new client recently. His name is “Doug”. Doug was a pedestrian crossing the street when he was struck by a vehicle. Doug was badly hurt and taken to the hospital where he was treated and admitted; he is now in an active rehabilitation program and is trying to recover from his injuries.
Doug is middle-aged. He was born with a cognitive disability. Doug’s parents came with him to our meeting. They are in their mid-seventies and were clearly worried about their son’s future. I suspect they have worried about Doug his entire life.
Doug lives simply. He is genuine. He takes great pride in his work as a custodian. My guess is that Doug is extremely well-liked by his co-workers and that everyone who knows him wishes him the very best in his recovery.
Doug is the sort of guy that everyone will be cheering for.
Doug is struggling with his emotions – partly because of the accident and partly because of his disability. When we met, Doug explained to me that he finds it very hard to talk with people about the accident and what it has done to him and his quality of life. With determination in his voice, Doug looked me in the eye and said that he “needs to be looking forward, not backward”.
I was struck by Doug’s positive outlook at this stage in his recovery. I was also struck by how such a simple statement – looking forward, not backward – packages up so many complex emotions and concepts. But Doug is absolutely right that looking forward concentrates his energy on goals he can reach, and progress he can make, and that looking backward serves only to remind him of things lost and not likely to be recovered. Listening to Doug speak about the need to be looking forward reminded me of something Robert H. Schueller once wrote, “it takes guts to get out of the ruts”.
Doug is the sort of person who would otherwise get swallowed-up by an insurance system that has become far too complicated and adversarial. I am proud to be Doug’s lawyer because I know that I can help him get a fair shake in this system he otherwise has to work within. After all, society as a whole loses when a person like Doug gets beat-up in a system that never gave him a chance.
You can add my name to the list of people wishing the best for Doug and who hope that he makes a tremendous recovery. At some point soon I will thank him as well for the important reminder of always needing to be ‘looking forward’ in life and for having the guts not to give-up.
May it be so for Doug – and for all of us.