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a letter to my dad

[25 years ago, my father decided to leave the law firm he worked at to start his own.  It was a risky venture, but he built one of the most successful personal injury law firms in Central PA, and more importantly, dedicated his life to helping those in need in the way he could best.  This letter is for him, in honor of his 25 years of hard work]

The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

It has been my father’s life work to give people who have been hurt, wronged, or taken advantage of space– space to heal, recover, and move on with their lives, often after experiencing terrible trauma.  He has done this under the law, a system of codes which at best is ambiguous and at worst unintelligible and unjust to many of us.  But Tim Shollenberger is a man who truly represents the alignment of lawful good, and he has wielded the law- an imperfect creation of imperfect beings- as a powerful tool in service of his fellow humans.  It is not easy to authentically and truly live this way, but I’ve watched my father do it for my entire life, and it has been a great example of how to live with integrity and purpose in the face of easier ways out.  “Don’t take the lazy man’s way,” he would often say to me as a kid.  Annoyed I’d often ask myself, ‘why not?’ His success is the answer to ‘why not.’  Here is a man who has not only built an extremely successful business (one in service to humanity rather than at it’s expense), but didn’t sacrifice his family to do it.  For all the hours he spent in his basement office of our home preparing for trial, he spent an equal number down there playing intense games of indoor soccer with me.  And for all the times he was 15 minutes late for dinner- “It’s ok,” he’d say, “I prefer my food room temperature”- he was never late for one of my soccer games or my sister’s dance recitals.
So Dad, raise your glass (which I’m sure is filled with water, because let’s be honest, you’re not drinking)!  This is a day to celebrate all that you’ve achieved.  25 years ago you took a risk and went out on your own into the inferno, and through your constant vigilance, sometimes apprehension, and deep dedication, you have not only endured; you have thrived!
With love,
Ryan

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