Okay, so this isn't really a breakthrough: it's a mere reprise. Remeber my last entry? Where I pledged that, absent a divine revelation, I was going to quit law school at the end of the first semester? And the entry before that, where I pledged that I had finally, for the twelve-millionth time, renounced law school? Well . . .I'm almost ashamed to admit it. Here I am. Entrenched in the finals of second semester. And nonetheless miserable.
I may as well confess my utter lack of courage. If I had to narrow it down to one element, I'd say it's fear that's kept me here so long. Fear of the unknown, fear of instability, fear of disappointing certain others, fear of failure. My shallow, perfectionistic ambitions got the best of me. And here I am, nine months wasted, thrown to the wind. Nine months to learn something I already knew: that this isn't for me.
But law school has a sneaky way of sucking students in, irretrievably. During our orientation, one of the deans stated that he'd had the pleasure of convicincing dozens of people not to quit . . .and watching them walk across the stage at graduation, field successful jobs, etc. This disturbed me even when I first heard it. If someone wants to quit, why stop them? It sounded like the kind of paternalistic "we know what's best for you" attitude that trapped me here in the first place. That narrow ideology - the notion that law students are the chosen few who can enjoy an elite, successful life - has repulsed me from the get-go.
But the real turning point came when I envisaged my future as a lawyer. No matter how many variations I came up with, each was brimming with stress, overwork, and ultimate meaninglessness: crumbling over the burden of hundreds of deadlines; struggling to manufacture countless legal briefs; poring into tedious legal research; and the eternal harbinger that no matter how many hours I put into it, nothing would ever be "good enough" . . .merely imagining this scenario was enough to plunge me into depression. Coupled with this vision of the future was the equally disturbing prediction that at some point - whether it be tommorow, next year, or fifty years from now - I would wake up one morning and realized I had wasted my life on something I didn't care about, or at worst, abhorred. Why would I throw away my only life so wantonly?
Fueled by these meditations, I am again renouncing the path I have taken, and pledging to take up a new one. Hell, I would rather be working at MacDonald's.
But enough of this thread. I refuse to focus my blog exclusively on the horrors of law school.
I've been thinking a lot about Guatemala lately. Probably because it's been exactly a year since I was there. I know I have a tendency to idealize events once they've past - and Guatemala is no exception - but in my mind, I've formed the epitaph that Guamtemala was the first real experience in my life where I fully lived out a dream, where I chose my own path and stuck with it, where I felt like I was truly living. In addition to being absorbed in another culture - something I'd yearned to do for years - as well as being immersed in strikingly beautiful scenery, I was also able to indulge in a more perdurable passion: writing. Fueled by a more peaceful lifestyle, I was able to complete dozens of poems, several short stories, and seven-eighths of a 70,000-word novel. This was the kind of existence I'd been searching for: at once, the freedom and inspiration to write.
When I returned from Guatemala, I suddenly found that I was unable to write. I would sit at the computer, fingers poised at the keyboard, and paralysis would strike. Unable to write a single word, I would give up in frustration. Perhaps it was the reverse culture-shock. Perhaps it was the doldrums of having to work a full-time job again. Who knows.
Three weeks ago, spurred by my inability to endure another moment of studying, I again took up the novel I had begun over a year ago. Three nights ago, I finished it.
I told a friend of mine that it feels as though I've taken out a new lease on life. More than that: I've been granted a new life entirely. A reprieve. The opportunity to pursue what I should have been pursuing all along.
Since high school, I've observed that I have a tendancy to destroy myself. This used to occur in more overt, physical ways; now, it's occured in my subersive fears and insecurities, sidetracking me to the point of derailment. Hopefully, these moments of clarity will be enough to light the way back to the path I should have taken.
I'll still have to somehow stare down the unpleasant reality that I'll be disappointing my parents. This has perhaps been the most compelling reason I didn't quit after the first semester; yet counterbalancing it is my ever-present desire to rebel. There is something deeply gratifying about turning my back on the expectations of others; about throwing my alleged "success" into the trash can. It's the same sort of rebellious impuse that fueled my U-turn away from a career in music. But I'm still regarding that as one of the better decisions I've ever made; how much more, then, should this be beneficial to my overall well-being.
On an unrelated note. . . (and since it is nearly 3 a.m., I'd better apologize for the confused lack of framework in this skewed entry) . . .every so often, I come across a film that absolutely intrigues and allures me. The Lord of the Rings, Ulysses' Gaze, Donnie Darko, The Fountain - and, most recently, Children of Men. I first watched it in Guatemala, but since then, have watched it several more times and picked up on much more of the depth of meaning and symbolism. Its overarching beauty is stunning - from the story itself to the metaphysical themes to the achingly gorgeous soundtrack, I simply can't get enough of it.
That's my Movie Recommendation of the Blog Entry.
Also, as a clarifying note, this is not "the end" of my blog, so far as I can tell. But hopefully, it is the end of law school. The final end. If not - if my next entry echoes this lament for continuing on another semester - then I reserve the right to destroy random furniture and light things on fire in a barbaric rage.
The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but the ignominy, the humiliation we feel that we must be what we are without any choice in the matter, and that this humiliation is seen by everyone.
-Milan Kundera, Immortality
Anyone whose goal is 'something higher' must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
-Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
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