My client was convicted more than 30 years ago. Eastham is not air conditioned, and I mentioned that fact and the heat advisory issued for the day to him. His response? He told me he did not notice much because when he was last in the free world “air conditioning was still a luxury.”
As I drove back to the office, I thought more about what he said to me. I thought not just about air conditioning as a luxury, but how the world has changed in those more than 30 years, and how it will change in 30 more. I thought about my 13 year old son – who I have written about before – and the world that will need to find some accommodation for him in those years. I thought about how the systems surrounding The Law have changed, and how Eastham seems rooted in a past I hardly recognize.
A past hardly recognized and a future I fear, not just for my non-verbal son, but for the profession that has made up much of my adult life. This morning I read a piece from Bryan Washington in the Paris Review Daily titled Exit Strategy: A Letter from Belize with the subtitle You Can’t Escape Your Problems at Home. It was the more interesting because Washington grew up, like me, in Houston, and still lives part time there. The short piece is about his disorientation in the current world and a trip he made in part to escape.
Toward the end Washington wrote:
There’s this quote by Heraclitus I found on my parents’ bookshelf when I was a kid: ‘Geography is history.’ He’s been dead for two thousand years and that line will always be true. There are problems, and then there are your problems. Focus on them all and you’ll end up cross-eyed. But the time will end up passing you by either way.Like my client at Eastham and the lack of air conditioning, time does not really care about problems large or small. Focusing on the things you can change must be the priority. A trip to Eastham will help with that realization.