Monday, April 19, 2004

There are days when you wake up, and you don't know how you got here, and you look in the mirror and you don't recognize the person you've become. You think about what you actually spend your days doing and you wonder where you stepped off the path. When you decided that this was who you were going to be and this was how you were going to spend your life. This was not the plan. This was never the plan. I used to feel things. I used to care about people, and actually be able to carry on a conversation without wondering who I could bill it to. I've been thinking this morning about how many people here I actually like as people, not just respect as lawyers, and recognize their skills and talents and mental acuity -- but that I actually like -- that the "real" me -- the me I was before I got here -- would actually want to be friends with. It isn't many. There's a first-year associate who's brilliant, and does an astonishing job balancing life and work -- he comes in on Monday and has stories to tell about his weekend that don't involve work. He coaches a youth-league basketball team. He remembers people's birthdays. He says please and thank you. He has perspective. I like him. As a person. Not just as a lawyer. There's an assistant who, more than being an assistant, is a mom, and a wife, and a caring individual -- who can get the client on the phone just fine, but who will also ask you how your day is going and really mean it. The fact that I can pick these people out, and that they stand out from the rest, is more than a little bit sad. Because the industry doesn't promote this kind of person. So many of my colleagues are overbearing individuals. They're loud, they're obnoxious, they get their way, and they appear to have absolutely no emotional depth. Maybe they've just suppressed it. But I find myself oftentimes wanting to lift them up and shake them. "Stop for a second," I want to say. "Stop talking. Stop smiling. Stop acting. Surely there must be something beneath this facade. Surely you must feel things. Surely you must understand that others feel things. Surely you must have this need for emotional connection, that for whatever reason you refuse to acknowledge. Because if you don't, I don't know how you exist as a person without leaping off the roof. Are you really that shallow? Are you really that empty? Tell me how life makes you feel. Tell me if this is the person you really want to be." It's not the person I want to be. It's not the life I want to lead. I want to shake them, and see if there's a really a soul inside them. And I want them to shake me, and make sure mine is still in there somewhere, that I haven't lost it, that I'm not becoming one of them, that I haven't already become one of them, that it's not too late for me. And that there are other people here who feel the same way but are scared to say it. And that we are all good souls trapped inside lawyers' bodies, but wishing we could get out. Just knowing that -- knowing they're everywhere, even if no one admits they have real feelings inside -- would make me feel better.

Update, after spending some non-billable time looking for other lawyers who have weblogs and seeing if they seem different from the people I want to shake. He seems different. He seems different. He seems different. She seems different.

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