In February 2000, I was seated at a writing table in a ballroom at the University of Iowa, waiting tensely along with dozens of others for the Iowa bar exam to begin.
Before we could start, the examiners asked us to write something in our test booklets - as a writing sample, they said, in order to avoid fraud. Wouldn't want someone borrowing someone else's ID and taking the test for them under false pretenses.
The two sentences we wrote have stayed with me ever since.
"Don't sweat the small stuff," went the first sentence. "What a good reminder," I thought.
The second sentence went even farther: "It's all small stuff."
Really? Three years of law school study, thousands and thousands of tuition dollars spent, seemingly a career on the line - and it's small stuff?
Well, in a way, yes. Though the words "dont sweat the small stuff" weren't nearly as eloquent as the serenity prayer, to me they hinted at a similar idea.
After the exam, I tried to take this notion to heart as I awaited the results. Easier said than done, to be sure.
Finally, one day in early April, I walked over to Drake Law School from the duplex my wife and I were renting a couple of miles away. Thankfully, the posting on the door of the law library showed I was among those who passed. A few days later, I was sworn in to the Iowa bar in a ceremony held in a grand old auditorium in Des Moines called Hoyt Sherman Place.
Hoyt Sherman Place is about a mile from Methodist Hospital, where - almost ten years ago now - our first son, Micah, was born.