Monday, May 12, 2008

growing pains

When I declared my intention to "rediscover" myself I knew that I would have some challenges ahead. I knew that, in the process of redefining my boundaries, I'd run into some confusion or dismay that the predictable response was not forthcoming. I had no idea the tempest in a teapot I was about to unleash.

Apparently, it has been a good long while since I spoke my mind, I mean really spoke my mind. No holds barred, not pulling any punches; just calmly laying things out on the table and being satisfied with simply saying, "Well, here it is. Certainly, do as you please, but you asked." Apparently, doing just this, which as I (re)discovered is one of the personality traits I sortof enjoy about myself, is bound to shake things up a bit. Especially when the person getting the treatment is a little bit touchy about the subject to begin with.

Misunderstandings were had, tempers (well, really temper - singular) flared and silence was well...not-so-golden, shall we say? Things were "resolved" for lack of a better word, within 24 hours, my newfound boundaries still intact. (I will no longer be apologetic for having an opinion that differs from yours.) The friendship? Well, I think that particular friend's head might still be spinning a little. We'll see, I suppose.

I'm feeling a lot more positive about my life generally too. Lest you think I have transcended the status of mere mortal, rest assured: I still have my moments; moments when that tiny voice that creeps in at the edges of my mind just after I lay down to sleep murmurs all the negative, scary "What if...?"s that never lead anywhere good. I'm just becoming more practiced at arguing back. See? Law school did stick after all!

I had a truly honest conversation with my mother yesterday that I still have to remind myself wasn't dreamt. I think it was the very first time she actually heard me when I told her about how difficult it is to be in a city full of friends who mostly don't seem to understand how I've found myself among the ranks of article-less souls. That in itself wouldn't be so troublesome, but the pulling away is palpable. The silence from that general direction is deafening. Here, it's not so uncommon to be without an articling gig in this tougher market. People are not as interested in pretense. What I do doesn't come up in the first ten minutes of conversation. Often, it doesn't even come up at all. Unless I'm at a job interview.

I have yet to make significant progress with myself on the question of why I am without articles. I do know this: I went to law school to get a set of tools. I wanted to help people; truly to improve lives in some way. I wanted to open doors for people who, for whatever reason - lack of motivation, understanding, courage, resources - couldn't open them themselves. I am not so naive as to think that being a lawyer is the only way to do this. However, I'm equally unsure what alternatives can both satisfy that desire and feed my appetite for variety, intellectual challenge, and analysis. I do love to pick things apart, I do.

So I find myself on a journey. And for this journey there is no map. I bought myself a magnet for the fridge the other day; somewhere I'll be sure to see it on a daily basis. It says, "The future comes one day at a time." (Abraham Lincoln) and it's something I sorely need the reminder of. I like to plan; to think out the next three steps in any direction. That way I always have somewhere to go; a contingency; a backup plan. In some ways this is a positive personality trait. In others, it limits me and causes me to occasionally miss the moment. My aspiration for this time on the west coast is simple: to get comfortable in the not knowing; to relish it; to appreciate the beautiful possibility that not knowing creates. Yes, this may be a harder road to travel. (Allusions to Robert Frost acknowledged here.) I truly believe it will make all the difference.


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