Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random Law School Update 17

Location: Washington, DC

I ate just the right amount. I floated home from dinner tonight on a cloud of delicious veganfood endorphins and found myself contemplating all the things that I am grateful for in my life. Moments later I thought how contrived it was to think of all the things I am thankful for, on Thanksgiving Day. But the truth is that I contemplate the things I am grateful for quite often. Usually more than once a day. So the fact that this set happened to hit me right after an incredible vegan Thanksgiving meal with friends was just about as natural as can be. I can't say the same thing about writing an email about it, except that I needed to write an email today anyways to remind you all that 1. my birthday is Sunday, and 2. you have not yet bought me a gift, and 3. it is ok because I have a perfect gift idea that requires next to no effort. Go to: and donate to my birthday wish on behalf of Compassion Over Killing. COK is likely the most effective advocacy group in the world in terms of its cost-to-compassion ratio and is a group very close to my heart. Donate token amounts of $1 to $5 just to let me know that you are thinking of me. Or if you happen to be very wealthy, donate token amounts of $1,000 to $5,000, even if you don't think of me much at all. I promise it is a worthwhile cause.

Ok. Back to the things I am grateful for...

First: My new diet. Tonight's feeling of pure satisfaction unaccompanied by an underlying desire to purge the contents of my stomach and to start again may be a Thanksgiving first. It feels great. Eating macrobiotically has done wonders for my discipline around food. I eat slowly now and realize when I am full before I start to overeat. I approach sugar skeptically and don't pile on salt like I used to. I can eat very large servings of food and I dont have to keep track of calories, or nutritional content for that matter. I don't have to worry about my weight fluctuating, even during finals. I build muscle quicker than ever and my flexibility has increased exponentially. And (drumroll...) I am learning how to cook. I haven't counted but, I have probably cooked myself over 45 meals since the beginning of the semester. I am pretty sure that this is more meals than I have otherwise cooked in the last five years combined. I can't say I like cooking yet, or that I am particularly good at it. But I do it and even my omnivorous friends come back for more. So, thank you macro diet.

Second: Self-growth. About 18 months ago, I remember thinking that I didn't have enough epiphanies in my life. I flew through, across, around the world absorbing infinite amounts of appreciation and perspective, constantly wrapping information and experiences around myself, ever-growing like a rubber-band ball of knowledge. What I didn't do much was to break myself apart at my cracks so that I could locate my weaknesses and put my pieces back together again in a more seamless condition. I approached life as if my identity was a given and my challenge was to help the world to conform to my idiosyncrasies. Law school, losing Meghan, being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, and feeling lost without the ability to communicate myself to a once close friend have violently shaken this perspective. I am reminded that my identity isn't static. It took me a lot of effort to become who I am today. Every so often, I go through phases of self-development during which I task myself with various ways to improve as a human being. The tasks may be as small a thing as not biting my nails, sending random thank you notes to friends, keeping a regular email update, going to the gym every day; or as big as going vegan, developing a logically consistent moral philosophy, or learning to carry myself with confidence - even when I don't feel so confident. I am in one of these phases now. I feel as if I have spent the last few years wrapping myself in a cozy cocoon of personal acceptance, and am now faced with the the task of emerging from it a butterfly. It is at first unpleasant, like getting out of a heated car on a cold ski day. But once you get to the top of the mountain, you recall how good it feels to be fully engaged with your environment. I am grateful, if not for their happening, at least for the effect of certain recent events that have conspired to force me out of my cocoon. I am grateful to be reminded of how amazing it feels to fly.

Third: People, friends. It occurred to me that it is getting late and I won't be able to finish this email because I have dedicated the rest of the weekend to studying diligently and to celebrating various friends' engagements, birthdays, and arrivals. However, you have all been amazing. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and for caring about mine. And I want to thank Jon in particular for being an indescribably incredible friend and for being able to understand the depth of my gratitude despite my inability to articulate it. And my parents for supporting me in every path I've ever sought to pave. And a handful of friends who don't get these updates yet, but who might read this on my blog in the future and realize that I am speaking now about you. Yes you, current-friend, future-blog-reader. Did we hang out around the week of November 21st, 2010? Did you make me smile? If so, I am thankful for you too.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Random Law School Update 16

Location: Washington, DC

My gratitude to all of you for your kind emails and interest in continuing to receive updates. I was really inspired by the amount of supportive responses. I have always been very self-critical and self-conscious of my writing, but this particular project means more to me than my insecurities. Each day validates the pricelessness of the human connections within my life and the incredible importance of keeping those connections as close to me as possible, which takes an additional effort in the absence of physical proximity. I believe that the best human relationships grow out of an attempt to understand another person and to help them to understand me so that, through each other, we come to understand ourselves and our existance better. This email, and your replies, are part of that process.

I have a theory that my outside reality is a product of my internal imagination. I have another theory that a physical reality exists independent of myself but that my mind retains significant power over it, or at least over my position with respect to it.

My life, as I imagine everyone's, is comprised of an infinite set of what appear to be causal interactions and if-then conditionals. An event leads to a choice which leads to a decision which creates an event that leads to more choice. And we follow these paths that exist only in the present and past, such that we dont really follow paths at all. Rather, we create paths through our reality using the tools we were endowed with or acquired along the way.

Every so often, my world is shattered. Even my most realistic expectations are disappointed, circumstance trumps communication, and I am forced to enter negotiations between my inner and outer realities. Such that, perhaps the two aren't the same at all. But then, it turns out that these world shattering explosions are really fireworks in disguise, and they illuminate the next step which satisfies my present and inspires my future. And somehow, between all the explosions and fireworks, my life continues in the exact direction that I would have had it go in had I been empowered to dictate my path from the beginning. And I again start to wonder whether I dreamed up this reality of mine after all.

This is all to say that, it has been a really exciting semester. In (future) retrospect I suspect that it may be one of the most exciting semesters of my life. Though, in present perspective it is hard to get past the fact that at any given moment I should be spending more time diligently studying for exams and maybe less time indulging in the glorious peaks and vallies of being in my 20s. Then again, I would make an argument, inspired by my tax class, that the time-value-of-youth likely exceeds the opportunity cost of a few hours of missed study time. I suspect that the lessons to be learned from youth will carry at least as much weight for my future as those from my classes. And so I indulge.