Saturday, April 17, 2010

No More Launching

Once again, it has been a long time since I have blogged. The last few months have been very full: We've had a parade of friends and family visiting, we had a dear family friend in his early twenties die, and we've been continuing this whole medical and legal thing.

All this has had me thinking. Yes, I've been thinking about whether a contract was unconscionable, when the police power goes too far in land regulation and should be called "a taking", the role of international law in shaping behavior and of course of litigation strategies.

But I've had lots of bigger questions on my mind. The really big ones, life, death, faith, security, will be left for another time.

But behind those has been a nascent realization that I'm going to try to put in words.

I've spent my whole life launching. From the beginning, it's been "reach for the stars" and "you can do anything". And, sitting at this place and time, it feels quite true. Just graduating from HLS, I can access and be a part of the highest echelons of US money/power culture: politics, corporations, government, investment banks, consulting and law firms. I can do more, get bigger, better, keep on expanding until...what exactly?

I guess I'm starting to fixate on this "what, exactly?" I kind of asked this question when I chose against my burgeoning corporate career and came here, because I had to stop a lot of momentum, economic and otherwise, to choose to travel and go back to school. But it still all bore the mark of more, better, launching into a new stratosphere of challenge and adventure.

Maybe this is just my impending thirtieth birthday talking, but I'm sort of done with this whole launching-expansive thing. It's not that my eyes aren't set high. Sure, it would be fun to run a Fortune 200 company, or sue one, or work for justice department, or be the guy who appoints the head of the justice department (that means be president). Yes, I'd like to remake the academic/legal/political/technological world. I want to chase interesting adventures and find ways to use those adventures to make a real difference in people's lives.

But I wonder if Solomon is a few steps ahead of me. It seems that this is all a bit of a meaningless chasing after the wind. More isn't necessarily better. In fact, it seems they often have an inverse relationship (gasp, there went my chances at the Presidency).

I guess I'm struggling to ask, how much is enough? Or, better yet, what is a better measure than quantity/prestige/power/exclusivity/impact? I'm sure that the answer lies in the words of the One who said, "blessed are the poor in spirit", but I just haven't quite figured out how to integrate all that.

I've noticed something. That almost always, those who are chasing these windmills are working themselves literally to death. Maybe that's worth it, if you have something or some end you are working for that is worth giving your life (and relationships too). I can't imagine any worldly cause worth sacrificing my relationships for (although that may just be a measure of my selfishness too, hard to say). Certainly it wouldn't be worth it for a "cause" that merely represents my own desire to have engaging or satisfying work. In the end, those sacrifices would be the opposite of satisfaction.

The truth is, I don't find these people all that impressive. They are a bit smarter and savvier than average, but not disproportionately so. They work hard yes, and were in the right place at the right time, usually by accident. But they aren't larger than life. In fact, a lot of them seem kind of small.

Anyway, I don't have any answers. I don't know what my life will ultimately look like. I don't know what dragons I will slay, or whether I will be a stay-at-home dad dragon slayer. What I do know is that I'm done graduating and getting sent off...I'm almost thirty years old now. Yes, I want adventure. I want intellectual challenge, to continue to see the world, to be pushed. But I also want to be rooted, to make choices that are judged on a value scale more worthy of the Kingdom I'm inheriting.

Maybe I'm just growing up?

1 comment:

Matt said...

This is so true Ron. I came to this same realization when I was looking at all the hoops that I had to jump through to get the PhD from MIT. I'm really proud of you for sticking to it though, whilst continuing to weigh the merits of each new thing that is asked of you. There are times when I wish that I would have kept it up, and times when I'm really glad I didn't. I crave having the constant "grade A" reminder that I'm the best, but I'm learning to live happily without it.

I think this path is absolutely the right thing for you right now, and I think that you can evaluate how much further up to climb after you get to the next landing! It's good to realize that you don't have to reach the "top" in order to be successful though.