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Chapter 1, The Wake-Up Call. Part 2
At fifty-three years of age, Julian looked as if he was in his late seventies. His face was a mass of wrinkles, a less than glorious tribute to his “take no prisoners” approach to life in general and the tremendous stress of his out-of-balance lifestyle in particular. The late-night dinners in expensive French restaurants, smoking thick Cuban cigars and drinking cognac after cognac, had left him embarrassingly overweight. He constantly complained that he was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He had lost his sense of humor and never seemed to laugh anymore.
Julian’s once enthusiastic nature had been replaced by a deathly somberness. Personally, I think that his life had lost all sense of purpose.
Perhaps the saddest thing was that he had also lost his focus in the courtroom. Where he would once dazzle all those present with an eloquent and airtight closing argument, he now droned on for hours, rambling about obscure cases that had little or no bearing on the matter before the Court. Where once he would react gracefully to the objections of opposing counsel, he now displayed a biting sarcasm that severely tested the patience of judges who had earlier viewed him as a legal genius. Simply put, Julian’s spark of life had begun to flicker.
It wasn’t just the strain of his frenetic pace that was marking him for an early grave. I sensed it went far deeper. It seemed to be a spiritual thing. Almost every day he would tell me that he felt no passion for what he was doing and was enveloped by emptiness. Julian said that as a young lawyer, he really loved the Law, even though he was initially pushed into it by the social agenda of his family. The Law’s complexities and intellectual challenges had kept him spellbound and full of energy. Its power to effect social change had inspired and motivated him. Back then, he was more than just some rich kid from Connecticut. He really saw himself as a force for good, an instrument for social improvement who could use his obvious gifts to help others. That vision gave his life meaning. It gave him a purpose and it fuelled his hopes.
There was even more to Julian’s undoing than a rusty connection to what he did for a living. He had suffered some great tragedy before I had joined the firm. Something truly unspeakable had happened to him, according to one of the senior partners, but I couldn’t get anyone to open up about it. Even old man Harding, the notoriously loose-lipped managing partner who spent more time in the bar of the Ritz-Carlton than in his embarrassingly large office, said that he was sworn to secrecy. Whatever this deep, dark secret was, I had a suspicion that it, in some way, was contributing to Julian’s downward spiral. Sure I was curious, but most of all, I wanted to help him. He was not only my mentor; he was my best friend.
And then it happened. This massive heart attack that brought the brilliant Julian Mantle back down to earth and reconnected him to his mortality. Right in the middle of courtroom number seven on a Monday morning, the same courtroom where we had won the Mother of All Murder Trials.
Chapter 2, The Mysterious Visitor
It was an emergency meeting of all of the firm’s members. As we squeezed into the main boardroom, I could tell that there was a serious problem. Old man Harding was the first to speak to the assembled mass.
“I’m afraid I have some very bad news. Julian Mantle suffered a severe heart attack in court yesterday while he was arguing the Air Atlantic case. He is currently in the intensive care unit, but his physicians have informed me that his condition has now stabilized and he will recover. However, Julian has made a decision, one that I think you all must know. He has decided to leave our family and to give up his law practice. He will not be returning to the firm.”
I was shocked. I knew he was having his share of troubles, but I never thought he would quit. As well, after all that we had been through, I thought he should have had the courtesy to tell me this personally. He wouldn’t even let me see him at the hospital. Every time I dropped by, the nurses had been instructed to tell me that he was sleeping and could not be disturbed. He even refused to take my telephone calls. Maybe I reminded him of the life he wanted to forget. Who knows? I’ll tell you one thing though. It hurt.
That whole episode was just over three years ago. Last I heard, Julian had headed off to India on some kind of an expedition. He told one of the partners that he wanted to simplify his life and that he “needed some answers”, and hoped he would find them in that mystical land. He had sold his mansion, his plane and his private island. He had even sold his Ferrari. “Julian Mantle as an Indian yogi,” I thought. “The Law works in the most mysterious of ways.”
As those three years passed, I changed from an overworked young lawyer to a jaded, somewhat cynical older lawyer. My wife Jenny and I had a family. Eventually, I began my own search for meaning. I think it was having kids that did it. They fundamentally changed the way I saw the world and my role in it. My dad said it best when he said, “John, on your deathbed you will never wish you spent more time at the office.” So I started spending a little more time at home. I settled into a pretty good, if ordinary, existence. I joined the Rotary Club and played golf on Saturdays to keep my partners and clients happy. But I must tell you, in my quiet moments I often thought of Julian and wondered what had become of him in the years since we had unexpectedly parted company.
Perhaps he had settled down in India, a place so diverse that even a restless soul like his could have made it his home. Or maybe he was trekking through Nepal? Scuba diving off the Caymans? One thing was certain: he had not returned to the legal profession. No one had received even a postcard from him since he left for his self-imposed exile from the Law.
A knock on my door about two months ago offered the first answers to some of my questions. I had just met with my last client of a gruelling day when Genevieve, my brainy legal assistant, popped her head into my small, elegantly furnished office.
“There’s someone here to see you, John. He says it’s urgent and that he will not leave until he speaks with you.”
“I’m on my way out the door, Genevieve,” I replied impatiently. “I’m going to grab a bite to eat before finishing off the Hamilton brief. I don’t have time to see anyone right now. Tell him to make an appointment like everyone else, and call security if he gives you any more trouble.”
“But he says he really needs to see you. He refuses to take no for an answer!”
For an instant I considered calling security myself, but, realizing that this might be someone in need, I assumed a more forgiving posture.
“Okay, send him in” I retreated. “I probably could use the business anyway.”
The door to my office opened slowly. At last it swung fully open, revealing a smiling man in his mid-thirties. He was tall, lean and muscular, radiating an abundance of vitality and energy. He reminded me of those perfect kids I went to law school with, from perfect families, with perfect houses, perfect cars and perfect skin. But there was more to my visitor than his youthful good looks. An underlying peacefulness gave him an almost divine presence. And his eyes. Piercing blue eyes that sliced clear through me like a razor meeting the supple flesh of a fresh-faced adolescent anxious about his first shave.
‘Another hotshot lawyer gunning for my job,’ I thought to myself. ‘Good grief, why is he just standing there looking at me? I hope that wasn’t his wife I represented on that big divorce case I won last week. Maybe calling security wasn’t such a silly idea after all.’
The young man continued to look at me, much as the smiling Buddha might have looked upon a favored pupil. After a long moment of uncomfortable silence he spoke in a surprisingly commanding tone.
“Is this how you treat all of your visitors, John, even those who taught you everything you know about the science of success in a courtroom? I should have kept my trade secrets to myself,” he said, his full lips curving into a mighty grin.
A strange sensation tickled the pit of my stomach. I immediately recognized that raspy, honey-smooth voice. My heart started to pound.
“Julian? Is that you? I can’t believe it! Is that really you?”
The loud laugh of the visitor confirmed my suspicions. The young man standing before me was none other than that long-lost yogi of India: Julian Mantle. I was dazzled by his incredible transformation. Gone was the ghost-like complexion, the sickly cough and the lifeless eyes of my former colleague. Gone was the elderly appearance and the morbid expression that had become his personal trademark. Instead, the man in front of me appeared to be in peak health, his lineless face glowing radiantly. His eyes were bright, offering a window into his extraordinary vitality. Perhaps even more astounding was the serenity that Julian exuded. I felt entirely peaceful just sitting there, staring at him. He was no longer an anxious, “type-A” senior partner of a leading law firm. Instead, the man before me was a youthful, vital — and smiling — model of change.
Chapter 3, The Miraculous Transformation of Julian Mantle. Part 1
I was astonished by the new and improved Julian Mantle.
‘How could someone who looked like a tired old man only a few short years ago now look so vibrant and alive?’ I wondered in silent disbelief. ‘Was it some magical drug that had allowed him to drink from the fountain of youth? What was the cause of this extraordinary reversal?’
Julian was the first to speak. He told me that the hypercompetitive legal world had taken its toll on him, not only physically and emotionally but spiritually. The fast pace and endless demands had worn him out and run him down. He admitted that his body had fallen apart and that his mind had lost its lustre. His heart attack was only one symptom of a deeper problem. The constant pressure and exhausting schedule of a world-class trial lawyer had also broken his most important—and perhaps most human—endowment: his spirit. When given the ultimatum by his doctor either to give up the Law or give up his life, he said he saw a golden opportunity to rekindle the inner fire he had known when he was younger, a fire that had been extinguished as the Law became less a pleasure and more a business.
Julian grew visibly excited as he recounted how he sold all his material possessions and headed for India, a land whose ancient culture and mystical traditions had always fascinated him. He travelled from tiny village to tiny village, sometimes by foot, sometimes by train, learning new customs, seeing the timeless sights and growing to love the Indian people who radiated warmth, kindness and a refreshing perspective on the true meaning of life. Even those who had very little opened their homes — and their hearts — to this weary visitor from the West. As the days melted into weeks within this enchanting environment, Julian slowly began to feel alive and whole again, perhaps for the first time since he was a child. His natural curiosity and creative spark steadily returned, along with his enthusiasm and his energy for living. He started to feel more joyful and peaceful. And he began to laugh again.