I’m eighty. My race is run. My public interest law career – a high wire act without a net – stitched together one hopeful action after another. In retirement I’ve become a poet, where I can pass on what I have done and learned.
In the summer of my second year in law school in 1967, I did civil rights work for thirteen weeks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I worked for Murphy Bell, a black attorney with a wife, two children, and a successful law practice, who risked it all to file civil rights lawsuits. The Klan burned crosses on his lawn. Inspired by Murphy, I devoted the rest of my life and career to trying to make the world a better, more just, more peaceful place.
As a public interest lawyer, my career was always a high wire act without a net. I had to blaze my own trail. Fortunately, I found the help I needed in prayer, Wilderness Vision Quests, Esalen workshops, gratitude practice, and individual therapy. In retirement, discovering writing poetry saved my life.
The image that spoke to me was the one showing a woman hugging a therapy horse. The image conjured up my daughter Elizabeth, equine surgeon extraordinaire. She gives me hope for the future – she, my son Alex, and my only grandson Gordy. The future is in good hands with good people like them. What else in the world gives me hope? The prospect of Donald Trump in a jail cell.
I have a gratitude prayer that I say every night when I go to bed. It’s the same every night, and it covers everything I am grateful for. I coordinate it with deep breathing, so I say it very slowly. The result is that I never have any trouble going to sleep, no matter what has happened during the day. Now, if only I didn’t have to get up a number of times a night to go to the bathroom. . . . .
I was a lawyer. When I retired I got completely lost until I found poetry. My first book of poetry called A Life of Service: the Poems of Peter Coppelman is about to be published.
The Deer Hunter. Best movie I ever saw. I managed to avoid Vietnam, but that movie brought home the horror of it all
Lots of places. Now, taking care of my eight month old grandson. Previously, traveling: I’ve spent two and a half years traveling, including two year-long trips around the world to forty countries.
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