Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Leaving Law School

In order to fully understand why I left law school it’s best first to start with the reason I was there to begin with. Like so many I was not born with the dream of being a lawyer, rather I was motivated to study law because I had the fear of not studying law. Fear that anything other than being a lawyer would be unworthy or not prestigious enough to satisfy my ego. Since I judged myself according to this criterion, it was only natural that I judged others in the same way. Externally I hid this judgmental self under a veneer of acceptance and openness, when the external and internal are in conflict then friction is a natural result (this friction is manifested in muscular tension and thought processes which in turn give rise to emotional responses, all of which if left unchecked needlessly consume life energy and feed off one another until the point of exhaustion.)
Now if you had asked me at the beginning of my studies why I wanted to be a lawyer I would have answered, “to help people,” in order to present a virtuous image of myself (once again the desire to be virtous was based on inherited notions of what is "good".) This was a complete lie or half truth (aka bullshit), since the main reason I wanted to be a lawyer was to help my self perception (ego). This ego was defined and constructed by society but mainly influenced by my parents. As a child I inherited what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what is success, what is failure etc. My parents placed upon me the idea that doctors, lawyers, etc are valued more than plumbers, gardeners and retail workers (side note: my most fulfilling job was doing part time topiary work as an undergrad maybe someday I'll return to this). As a child I never understood this but accepted it as truth and as a result I formed my own mental impressions of the world based on this inherited understanding. In a sense I was asleep at the switch of life, not taking the time to investigate internally what these things mean to me, instead I unquestionably took that which was given to me externally as absolute, never really understanding what is internally correct. As a result of accepting these “goods” and “bads” I was in effect in a state of constant reaction, making decisions and acting based on external values, like one of Pavlov’s dogs I was a bag of conditioned responses, not free to do what I internally felt was right but constrained by inherited valuations. As I reacted through life I felt something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. The decision to attend law school (like many others) was in a sense a conditioned response based upon those inherited valuations.
Law school is a great place to learn how to think analytically, as law students we spend most of our time using this tool on the external world building up our sense of self worth (because of increased ability to catagorize and systematize the external world), yet never really understanding anything of personal value (does being able to explain Pennoir lead you to a lasting happiness). Socrates, to whom much of law school's teaching style is based upon said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Although these words are harsh, they convey great wisdom. With out that examination are we really living or just going through the motions dictated to us by external forces, veritable marionettes on the stage of life? Our strings being pulled by our forefathers. For me this examination was difficult because I harbored a litany of personal demons; fear, anger, hatred, selfishness. Slowly though, as I sincerely looked further into myself, I confronted these things and stripped them of their power over my actions, not eliminate them but simply recognized their presence and separated them from having control over my actions.
At some point during my last semester I found clarity which led to an understanding of all I conveyed above. With this understanding the inherited valuations began to melt away, and as a result I lost the fear that launched me into law school. With this new understanding I no longer felt the need to continue in the costly law school endeavor. That is not to say that a law degree is an unworthy pursuit (after all many of my friends are lawyers or soon to be) simply that it’s not an item I feel is necessary for my own well being. For the time being, which is the never ending moment, you can find me putting my energy into what is in front of me.
I hope what I have written above helps you in some way find what I have found, please take care. There are no true answers only true questions. Be well my friends.