Stephen King advised in his personal memoir, On Writing, to “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”
King was referring to his mistaken prioritization of writing over the life he should have been experiencing with his wife and kids. Luckily, he realized the blunder of his aim.
Law is similar in that too many of us forget where our aim should be. Your legal career is simply a support system for life. It isn’t your life. It isn’t the end all. It is a tool. It is a color in a larger pallet of paint that will get thrown on the canvas of your life and turned into art. Make sure to use every color available, and don’t feel like you have to stay within the lines.
To realize one’s true self one must understand the beauty in their own life. Shakespeare’s Othello referenced the “daily beauty in his life.” It is this “daily beauty” that is vital to the undertaking of life if one is to live it with passion and purpose. Like the artist’s canvas, the beauty of one’s life is the product of the pallet of experience of each day.
What about those days that the client isn’t happy regardless the outcome, or the opposing counsel is pressing the wrong buttons? What if your home life is leaving you feeling empty, or bills aren’t being paid as easily as you anticipated? The paramount psychologist and philosopher William James instructed, “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” Don’t fake it ‘til you make it. Make it the product of your own belief. Make life your canvas.
The practice of law is a most arduous and trying manner in which to make a living. However, it is so much more difficult if our outlook on our lives does not begin with a purposeful belief in the value of living the lives we were blessed with. It is up to each of us to live each day with purpose, appreciation, and vigor. In those moments when we do, we’ll realize we’re living our true purpose within the lawyer life.
– Chris Smith, Esq.