Back to blogging with my three co-bloggers! Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays. (Usually we are on time. Usually. Ok, mostly. Sometimes? Don’t judge me.)
Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:
This week, Merryland Girl chose, and she referenced an online story about a man who asked his wife what was on her mind, and she drew him a picture in response. Merryland Girl (Melissa) asked us to write about what’s on our minds.
Oh, so, so many things, Melissa.
After Merryland Girl suggested the topic, I tried to be more mindful of what, exactly, I’m thinking about as I move through a day. I could have easily drawn a picture much like the one in the story (though not as cleverly) because, at any given moment, I have at least thirty things flying around the great space between my ears.
I could write about those, but they’d be what you’d expect: work, my grocery list, what I forgot to add to my grocery list, what I need to do that day, what I didn’t do the day before, whose birthday I missed, which therapy we have today, etc., etc., etc. The cacophony inside my brain is long and relentless; my inner dialogue shuts up only when I fall asleep (which is never easy, given all the activity up there), and sometimes my dreams merely pick up where consciousness left off. (And I wonder why I never feel rested.)
Of course, if I have any legal work to do, I think about that, too. A lot. And that got me thinking about a conversation I had a few years ago with a law student who clerked at the firm where I used to work: a conversation about the mental relentlessness of the practice of law.
It was late April, and the clerk, Zach, had brought me something – mail, research, exhibits, who knows. I knew he was finishing up his third year of law school, so I asked him how it was going, if he was looking forward to graduation, how he felt about the looming bar exam. He looked at me wearily and said, “I’m looking forward to going home at the end of the day and not thinking about the law.”
Oh, you poor misdirected young man.
I’ll admit it: I laughed. Zach furrowed his brow in confusion. I told him that although law school homework might end, he would never, ever, ever again go home and spend any significant amount of time not thinking about the law. It just wouldn’t happen.
I told him how I – a mother of three kids – often found myself walking through the grocery store, pushing a cart and staring at shelves of stuff all while trying to work through a legal issue with which I struggled. I told him stories of law dreams I’d had and stories of other lawyers who actually solved legal issues while they slept. I told him of watching television but seeing and hearing very little, because my brain was still thinking about something I had done that day or needed to do tomorrow. And I told him of the time I stopped working for a few months and I missed it so much, I called my practicing lawyer friends just so they could tell me about their cases and I could think about the law again.
Not think about the law? Absurd.
My lawyer friend Karen and I often talk about wanting a job that you leave at work when you walk out the door. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether such a job exists. Sure, there are jobs that start exactly at 8:00am and end exactly at 5:00pm, but does that mean the people who work those jobs don’t, in some way, take those jobs home with them? I imagine a nurse who works a twelve-hour shift (in theory, anyway – I’ve heard about the paperwork); does s/he go home and just stop thinking about the patients? Doesn’t a retail store manager still think about the store and the employees and corporate baloney after s/he’s left for the day? I wonder.
And then I wonder whether it’s the jobs themselves that cause the endless thinking, or whether it’s the employee, with the job being nothing more than the symptom. I have a feeling that no matter what job I chose, my endlessly churning brain would not just “forget” about it during my off hours. Perhaps I could find a job where I wouldn’t be trying to solve complex legal issues, but I doubt I would just somehow stop thinking about work simply because I’m physically not at work. Certainly, when volunteering for hospice, I never stopped thinking about my patients, even after I went home from their bedsides, even though I was in no way medically responsible for their treatment. There were no problems to solve, nothing I could do, yet I didn’t just “forget” them until my next volunteer shift.
I even do it with this blog, spending days mulling over this week’s topic and what I’m going to write and then mentally writing (and editing) it. I grow frustrated when nothing comes to mind, and so I spend even more time going over it in my mind. And this blog is in no way a job, but I still can’t switch the over-thinking piece off.
It’s just the way I’m wired.
I know I’m not alone. I would venture to guess that all of you, My Five Loyal Readers and my co-bloggers, are guilty of this same level of thinking and mental restlessness. I imagine you nodding as you read, understanding exactly what I mean, even though most of you have never practiced a day of law in your lives. I do know that I am, indeed, in good company.
But, sometimes, I sure am tired.