Notes to Self – January 13, 2014

As I wrote in the first of Notes to Self, these are to clear up any confusion or questions from the AWOL manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” being published serially here. Much of the manual plays off of Rules for Being Human. Because this is a blog, I break individual chapters into parts, but they were originally written to be read as one piece.

We’re just winding up Rule 2:  “YOU WILL LEARN LESSONS.   You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life.  Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.”

This “lesson plan” was to assess how happy the reader was in his life choices. The manual was written to help attorneys specifically because the course was designed for attorneys and in response to that informal poll where 80% responded they would not choose to be an attorney again.

When I hope it is applicable to all professions, it is with the desire that each of us, wherever we are in our career or life path, can pause the rat race long enough to correct course before we crash and burn because we were too busy to notice the dull pain of lowered expectations, the loss of joy in the common hours, the mid-life crisis where so many of us seem to implode and run screaming from the room.  When I wrote this manual, morale in the law profession was at an all time low and there were many reasons for it.  My task, as I saw it, was to reignite the flame they began with before reality and life choices took them down down roads they had not foreseen, but had inevitably made because life is always moving forward.

If you are unhappy with your life, rather than just accept that this is life, make the effort to understand why.  No one else can do this for you.  You can spend years in therapy being gently coaxed by your therapist to confront your inner demons or, as seems to have become  prevalent,  point the finger, cry victim and hold to your grudges because they are safe and require nothing else from you except an acknowledgement that you got the short end of the stick.  I think it was Carolyn Myss who said that all these 12-Step programs were designed to move you forward, like a boat across the river, except that nobody wants to get out of the boat.

It is hard work to confront these questions.   It can also feel threatening and human instinct is often to close your eyes, avert your gaze and look anywhere but at that elephant in the room.  And when I say you, I mean me, you, everybody you know.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re an attorney, a secretary, a plumber, a CEO, a roofer, a banker, a candlestick maker.  At the end of the day, at the end of your life, these were our choices.  You may choose self-sacrifice, you may choose to say you don’t have time to think about it, you may indeed have made the right choices for yourself whether in the now or at the end of your days.   It is courtesy to ask “How are you?,” much like we shake hands or break bread with one another, but only you can know if “I’m fine.” is the truth or “good enough.”


13 thoughts on “Notes to Self – January 13, 2014

    • Yes and most of the world still operates this way. It is hard to imagine that I wrote this before the Internet had really taken off and there had been a big boom in the 80s, 90s – where people were doing so well they could talk of “having it all,” “who am I? why am I here, where am I going?” when we look back at the enormous social changes that have taken place that, once upon a time, took hundreds of years… For all that, I still think the questions are important, not to anybody else necessarily, but to be truthful with one’s self and be able to look our selves in the mirror.


      • The younger generation today aren’t ready to settle for what I mentioned. I find that both scary and refreshing. Jobs are a problem these days and they will experience many jobs throughout their lifetimes and lucky if they also have benefits attached.


        • “…both scary and refreshing.” Yes, Tess. I attended a job fair at the University of Washington. The students were anywhere between 20-26. An age group expected to be full of ideals and passions. What struck me as horrific was listening to them discuss why they wanted to go into government – job security and benefits. Those were the least of my concerns under the age of 30-35.


          • I recall university students on a tour in my company a bunch of years back. The first question in Q&A period was, “How long before I do your job?” The speaker was professional but I knew he felt punched. The question haven’t changed much in the years following. These young people was it ALL. I don’t blame them but what they want is as realistic as wanting the huge house their parents worked 30 years to payoff for the family. 😦


    • Dear M.R., had me doing frantic research, thinking I’d not responded and knowing I’m actually behind on two earlier awards… Thanks for the clue re your post today or tomorrow, depending on the time zone! 🙂 Very kind of you to nominate me for the Sunshine Award. This is my second nomination for it and, I am embarrassed to confess I haven’t responded to the first yet…. I was trying to figure out what it was for. I mean, was it for bloggers who try to remain upbeat and positive or something else or or or…

      Regardless, thank you for thinking of me and I shall get off my butt and respond very shortly. 🙂


      • Buggered if I know, Huntie – I don’t understand any of them. All I do know is that so many people derive great pleasure/help from your site that it seemed a good idea. But you mustn’t feel obliged,not at all!


  1. Hunt, I enjoy your notes to self, cause they are also notes to me,. I was very fortunate my career. I went from one job to another, always a step up always a better situation. There were only a few years during my entire career where I actually questioned the why of it all. But even now in reflection I wouldn’t change a thing. The bad made the good that much better. I really ranted about lawyers, but course that while written to lawyers could and was about me and my career as well. I am the dim witted one, that needs to read and digest, and I have, my opinion on lawyers hasn’t changed but my appreciation for lesson 2 has climbed considerably. You remind me of a Political Science Professor I had, would love to argue with her for the sake of the argument sometimes. Your writing have stirred emotions going back ages. Thank you for your continued patience. Bill


    • Bill, I think also you underestimate yourself. While I pose questions in this manual, it was written with the intention to shake up long-standing habits of thinking or reasoning, to invite people to listen to the call of their heart, their soul. You, dear man, have faced the knowledge of being told you had 3-5 years to live – six years ago. It is not theoretical to you. It has meaning and substance. You address in your blog what it is like to know what you will die of and be given an expiration date. Your response has been to fight and to share that very personal fight. And to help me and others in the same fight. Thank you, Bill.


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