By Kenneth Justice
“Kenneth, my husband absolutely hates being a lawyer!” she said
~ I was enjoying a coffee the other day when one of my acquaintances sat down at my table, “Kenneth, you always seem so happy and laid back, what kind of work do you do?” she said …..clearly she must only run into me on my good days.
“Are you looking to change jobs” I asked her
“No, its not me; my husband absolutely hates being a lawyer, after all the time and money we devoted to his schooling it’s been four years since he passed the bar exam and he loathes every minute of it” she said
According to the woman, her husband as a twenty-something had bought into the Hollywood hype surrounding the law-field; he wanted to be a lawyer because it looked fun and exciting. Perhaps he watched movies like The Firm with Tom Cruise or The Rain Maker with Matt Damon and had visions of high profile tort cases or being a defender of the wrongfully persecuted,
“The majority of what my husband has to do is sales and paperwork; he has to try and get customers by selling his services and when he does finally get a case he didn’t realize how much work it would be to write bills and get the customers to pay on time. Being a lawyer isn’t anything like they show on television or in the movies” she said
As I sat there listening to her I couldn’t help but wonder how much influence Hollywood films have on our lives. For instance, when it comes to relationships Hollywood is awesome at showing us the couple falling in love; but the story usually ends with that final kiss as the credits role. Very few films show us what life is like after they fall in love.
And just as Hollywood fails in showing us what life is like after that final kiss; Hollywood also tends to fail at showing us the daily ins and outs of a 9 to 5 job. Most jobs are not exciting; in fact, the overwhelming majority of jobs are rather tedious……and tend to involve hard work.
One of my closest coffee house friends recently retired from teaching; he was a high school teacher for more than 30 years and he will tell you that the first year or two was pretty awesome; but by the time he arrived at year three he began to realize that teaching is just like anything else; it’s a job. Sure, there can be very satisfying moments in teaching, such as working with students and seeing them progress…..but ultimately, having to get up every morning to do the same thing over and over, day after day, involves commitment and determination.
I’m hardly the first person to observe that Western Society is permeated by a fast-food mentality; we want what we want now! And in our obsession with expediency I feel that we are losing the recognition that the best things in life are the things that take time. Sure, the opening credits of our relationship or job can be fun and exciting……but it’s the people who make it beyond the opening scenes that are able to reflect on the true beauty of it all.
In my private life I am obsessed with art. I can hang out at the museum for hours and stare at paintings. One of the things that often goes through my mind as I stare at a Picasso or Renoir is the sheer magnitude of time that it took these great painters to finish their works. A piece of art if it can be created in 3 minutes isn’t very special…….but a work of art that the artist painfully slaved over demonstrates their passion and commitment.
And I wonder if we have forgotten that little lesson in relation to our jobs; perhaps we have bought into a lie that every minute at work during the day is supposed to be filled with intense moments of excitement and gratification. Yet if we were to talk to Michelangelo and asked him what the experience was like in painting the Sistine Chapel I suspect he would tell us about how difficult it was, the tedious nature of the work, and how exhausted he felt at the end of each day.
I’m reminded of the famous quote attributed to Confucius, “All good things are difficult to achieve, and the bad things are very easy to get”
I’m three days away from arriving in Atlanta on the first part of my U.S. coffee house tour and the realization that this year will involve a lot of work is ever present in my mind. A few of my friends have called me recently to tell me how exciting it must be to travel to so many places; yet just like anything else things may seem all fun and exciting in the beginning…….but the success of any venture in life depends on whether or not we stay committed to it after the excitement fades to grey.
The sun is rising here in the Midwest and I think I’ll have another coffee,
—-If you haven’t heard I’m visiting coffee shops all across North American and Europe this year to meet with readers and bloggers; I’d love to have coffee with you! I will be in Atlanta this weekend! Check out my homepage for dates and locations.
Categories: Culture & Society