Friday, August 27, 2010

Right Livelihood

I don't talk about it often, here on this blog, because (1) I can't, and (2) it would bore most people to snoring, deep, dreamless sleep, but there are days when I absolutely adore my job.

Yes, there are days -- many of them -- when my weary, stressed, tired, old body crawls home, pours a drink, goes out to place my head, cheek-down, upon the cold stone altar in my garden, and says to Mama Gaia, "Sweet Mother, what did I ever do to condemn myself to a life of arguing w/ stupid, dealing with minutia, correcting the same document over and over, sitting on another interminable conference call? What, Mother, what?!?"

And, then there are days like today. Days when I get to toss glass bead bubbles back and forth with minds I truly admire, minds that sharpen my own, minds that I sharpen. Days when my understanding of cases and statutes runs deep and true, days when I really can't imagine that anyone pays, rather than charges, me to get to do this. Days when (and, really, just like being drunk on religion only appeals to a small percentage of the population), even though only a small percentage of the population would get high on this, the combination of my expertise concerning a tiny, tiny, moderately obscure snippet of the United States Code and my understanding of a technical issue such as standing or due process allows me to float, soar, glide, engage in what Robert Frost called "work [that is] play for mortal stakes." As Frost explained, only then can one say that "the deed [is] ever really done for Heaven's and the future's stakes." I do think that many of us are "born" to do something. I was born to do appellate work.

I'm incredibly lucky to have shown up in one of the few times in history when girls get to play this game (May the future cause my great, great, many-times-great granddaughters to wonder how women were ever excluded). I'm incredibly lucky to have gotten the state-supported eduction to allow me to do this. I'm incredibly lucky to have found a place where I can do this with minds that leave me flat-out in awe, where I can get out-of-this world technical and paralegal support that frees me to do what I love to do. I try to remind myself just how lucky I really am. Especially when my cheek is resting on stone.

Joseph Campbell discussed this phenomenon when he said: "If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living." That's the path that I set my feet upon when I went to law school, took this job, began, terrified of failure, to do the job that I do today. And it absolutely feels to me like flying, like amazing sex, like what I imagine cocaine must feel like, like what I imagine a surgeon feels upon cutting out disease, or an artist feels when she gets just the right color, or a composer feels when she figures out just the right note, or a mathematician feels when the numbers click, or a mother feels when the baby catches the nipple, like my deepest mystical experiences in nature, like being right.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

1 comment:

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Strangely, I often feel that way about my job.
"Strangely", because it's basically communicating with the machines.
I detest the machines, but love the coding interface which forces them to give up the information they are holding.
Perhaps it's the creative use of language I love so much. Hmm, must think about this some more.
Terri in Joburg