Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, October 14, 2002

My weblog has some competition, sadly enough. They don't know it yet, but I've been scoping out whatever weblogs I can find written by other law students. There's one that's got something somewhat thought-provoking today about law students that I completely disagree with. Here's a long and out-of-context plagiarized quote:

"There are few things that get me angrier then law students in my position complaining about the difficulty of law school. Before I say anything else, however, let me be clear. 'Nothing I say here refers in the slightest to people... [in] difficult positions, with responsibilities for children, aging parents, or whatver. All this is about is people like me; just out of college, completely unburdened professional students. Now, what could possibly be difficult about law school in this position? We're surrounded by young people, even (let me add!) those of the opposite sex. We're studying interesting material; material made interesting, let me be clear, not by my personality but by its nature. We study the very bones of our society. Outside the law school, many of us live in interesting places, and at least the rest of the university is around to provide entertainment. We're mostly young and healthy, and in general, the work is demanding but not overwhelming. And, if the great problem of life for many of us is finding something to do, then, law school fits the bill exactly. What, then, is the problem? Do people expect endless hilarity? Actually, I think people do expect to be constantly entertained, and consequently, when they're not, they become unhappy... You know, our jobs sometimes just aren't going to be very interesting. Certainly, they'll be more demanding then law school. And at that point, it's going to be these daily routines that are going to save us from complete depression. It's going to be the gentle sizzling of the onions in the pan, the stirring of the risotto, the weekly walk to the supermarket or to the dry cleaners or whatever, that's going to keep us going. If you see the basic functioning of your life as a chore, then you place too high a burden on the rest of your life to be fun and interesting. When the rest doesn't deliver, you're probably going to be in trouble."
(Here's a link citation This Other Guy's Weblog -- but please don't abandon me for him.

Anyway, I have a beef with his argument. I don't see what's so bad about wanting our lives to be interesting, and not being satisfied with the routines and the everyday. Yes, it's nice to be able to appreciate the little things in life -- and often the little things deserve appreciation. But if the little things are what's "save[ing you] from complete depression" then aren't you in trouble? Doesn't it mean that your life's pursuits are wrong? I can't help but think that this is the rationalization for going to work in a big corporate law firm -- everyone knows they won't enjoy the work, that the 20-hour days will be grueling, that the lifestyle will be unhappy and lonely and boring and unfulfilling, albeit lucrative (but what good is the money if you have no time to spend it?). So people start making absurd claims that jobs aren't supposed to be interesting, and life isn't supposed to be fun and exciting.

I have to admit, my argument falls apart if I broaden my circle of awareness -- it is unfortunate but true that there are lots of jobs very important to society that are not interesting. We have waiters and janitors and secretaries and IRS auditors who do things that have great utility but probably are not spectacularly interesting and rewarding. And they're only there to make money to support themselves and their families and not because it's their dream job. Fair enough. But, at the risk of sounding elitist (at the certainty of sounding elitist, I should say), I'm at Harvard Law School. If people here (and by "here" I really mean a broader circle than Harvard -- I mean the, I don't know, 10% of the population that goes to reasonably selective colleges and universities and has a wide variety of doors open to them, and isn't forced to take a job in CVS as the only means for survival. It's an elitist argument, but I'm not so elitist as to single out this place as special -- I mean people fortunate enough to get educated and have options, that's all) aren't in a position to find a job that is at least interesting and fulfilling, then who the heck IS? And if society is set up in such a way that there are NO jobs that are truly rewarding, then we're in trouble. It's an awfully low bar being set if the goal isn't at least to have a job that's interesting and rewarding. I feel bad for my fellow law student if he's truly bracing himself for a life one smell of risotto away from constant depression.