Monday, December 11, 2006


I did what might be considered a good and generous thing today. I wish I could feel better about it.

I was contacted by an attorney not long ago, asking me to do an evaluation on a pro bono basis for one of his clients. "Pro bono" as in: free. No charge. And I accepted, feeling that it would be a good thing to do, that the attorney would get to know my work, etc.

The thing to understand here is that the kind of evaluation requested isn't just an hour or two out of my day. It was the whole day. The second thing to understand is that I'm in private practice. This isn't like a salaried position where I get the same amount of money regardless of what is collected in may name. If I don't bill for it, I don't bring money in.

Which is why it was a good thing to do, and probably a big part of why I don't feel very good about doing it right now.

If I look deeply enough into this feeling, I think a lot of it has to do with how much money I've had to invest in training lately. Two trips to Houston for a week apiece. The hotels, the meals, the cost of the seminars themselves. Basically, we've had to dip deep into our savings to pay for that.

On top of that, my wife and I both cut back our hours at work in order to have more time to spend with our boys, trying to work on their autism. So whereas before it used to feel like we were pretty comfortable financially, now it feels more like living paycheck to paycheck. Or, better, like "paycheck to paycheck" isn't enough -- like we're cutting pretty hard into savings at this point.

Of course, the truth is I have no real reason to complain, in the big picture of things. This cost is temporary. Savings can be rebuilt over time. The training I'm getting should be of direct benefit to my work with my boys.

And yet, I think in a sense this feeling is trying to teach me something. Helping me to understand that my negative feeling isn't towards this evaluation, but to more general financial worries. Helping me to understand my need to do something to feel a bit more financially secure -- even if that's just developing a plan to get there.

And going through that process, there is this realization at the end of it that doing the right thing should matter more than my short-term financial concerns.


Magdalene6127 said...

Steve, I tried to comment earlier but Blogger seemed to be down... this post is so honest and full of integrity. It seems that money is the last taboo subject, doesn't it? People are willing to put all their most intimate stuff out there, but on this topic... we clam up.

It seems to me it should be ok to hold your desire to contribute positively to the community in tension with your need to be there for your family (both physically and financially). And it's ok to need to prioritize family. Really!

steve said...


Thanks for your kind words. Yes, money does seem to be taboo. Odd, isn't it? I often wonder if it's because "money" talks aren't really usually about money. Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts and wisdom. Blessings.