Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cart-Pushing, Farming, and Lawyering

I am not second-guessing my decision to pursue a law degree.

On my way to work this morning, I came out of a local grocery store and overheard a few lines of  conversation between two employees.  The weight of their dialog wasn't carried in their words, but by their tone.  Both employees were men, older-not-old, the first particularly happy--you know, that certain brand of big-happy that comes with wide smiles, grandiloquent gesticulation, and hearty ribbing--the second quieter but similarly smiling.  The second had apparently been gone a week or so from work and hadn't communicated with his friend who thought maybe he'd left or disappeared or, I'm guessing now, worse.  I got the impression--maybe faulty, but I don't think so--that these two men truly enjoyed their jobs, and all the more so for each other's company, at the grocery store.  They weren't owners or management; rather they both wore the neon orange vests with reflective stripping of the cart pushers and garbage attendants.

My dad, a veterinarian, once told me that he believed the men and women who lay traffic cones and barrels along construction sites on the freeway have a great job.  Later he told me how he'd enjoy being a farmer.  He's confessed multiple times how he dislikes--or is sick of, really--being a veterinarian.  He's still a vet, but he also has, finally, to a degree--and to just the degree he seems to have always wanted--his farm: a hundred acres of Ohio countryside to mow and tend and plant and do whatever-the-heck he wants with and when he wants to do it.

My first year teaching (and I believe I've mentioned this before), I asked my students to raise their hands if they planned to attend college.  I was appalled--even angered--by how many students did not raise their hands.  I was teaching seventh grade, "mainstream" English.  Surely these kids must have known by seventh grade--and none had handicaps that would otherwise remove them from the possibility--that they would attend college, that, so I foolishly believed, there was no other option.  I talked about future money and possibilities, financial stress, ladders, job satisfaction, and all the other crap an immature teacher would foist on his unwitting and quite innocent students.

What all of this comes to is an examination of what exactly I want and, perhaps, why I want it.  (I've been tinkering with an essay for weeks about the nature of human desire--not that kind of desire--and where our desires stem from and why according to most philosophers, if not all, we are not actually in control of our desires and therefore, ultimately, our choices.)  Why do I want to be a lawyer?  Easy.  So many people have asked the question that I've got an answer ready and waiting: I want to be a lawyer because I want to be able to better take care of my family and yet do a job at which I have potential to not only perform well but to also enjoy.  But why do I really want what I want?  Well, I guess it's the money.  I want my family to be comfortable.  I want my family have ... stuff.  I confess: I want a nice car a nice home and nice clothes.  I want to buy books.  I want to travel.  I want to buy new drums.  I want to be the one who offers help, not the one who requires it.

Selfish?  Greedy?  Indulgent?


It would be a lot easier if I were satisfied and happy with something much simpler but (and if you don't agree, you're stupid), no less important.

And I'm leaving it at that for now.

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