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When preparing to write again, I asked, “With a world so divided, are personal essays but frivolous noise?” I posed the question to a psychologist friend wise in the ways of healing. She responded, “Nothing is more unifying than shared insights into the human condition.”

So, I begin: After 48 years of law practice, the last 30 as a mediator, my office door is now closed. Soon to enter the 10th decade of my life, I am ever more an observer. I look back on the relationship dynamics of the divorcing couples that chose to mediate their differences. Sometimes angry, always sad, they sought to protect their children and offer respect and kindness to each other. Stories from my professional past evoke personal experiences, intimate stories that may also provide some useful insights. I am the third person in the room, observing both their lives and my own.