Earlier this year (or last year for that matter) I wrote a lot about my feelings surrounding success and that nature of work, productivity vs. creativity, and a lot of other "work" related thoughts. In no small part I was influenced by a few books I read including Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence. I think basically I was coming to some sort of conclusion that ideas of success, especially in the professional world are almost entirely subjective. The only real concept anyone can seem to have of success will probably have to be entirely personal, because all the others depend on variable which tend to be quantitative in measuring an idea or concept that is entirely qualitative.
I have not written much lately, at least in part because of exams and then law review "try outs" (I also place blame with particular individuals). The law review try out in particular stirred up some of my negative and conflicted emotions about school which essentially boil down to this: I believe, no- I know, that I am intelligent and on some level know the material and concepts better than some if not many of the top students in school. However, to look at my grades you would not think this to be the case. My grades are at best inconsistent. I am really not looking for answers from the outside world on this one. People are always quick with study tips and suggestions I get a palm pilot or a color coded highlighting system, but the truth is I a. completely lack even the slightest motivation to do this and b. I don't think that will achieve much long term. I have said this for a while, and now I am just going to repeat it- grades don't really measure much. If nothing else they are an inept indicator of whether students can tell teachers exactly what they want to hear in the format they want to hear it. If that is learning then I guess I have it all wrong in terms of my concepts of education.
I recently saw my mom and she was telling me about my younger brother's search for summer work. I won't tell you the details of what he is up to, but it led me to remember something that had come to the forefront of my memory recently. When I was in third grade I lost the "Student of the year" award in Mrs. Lynch's science class to Brandon Woods (who has gone on to be pretty smart and successful himself). I remember the strangest thing was the teacher coming up to me after she gave the award to Brandon and saying to me, "I would have given the award to you, but you have this attitude that the rules don't apply to you." At the time I was really hurt. But looking back now, I see that this has been my attitude much of my life, especially when it comes to school. I respect certain teachers, certain professors and in their classes I have really excelled- people like Dr. Whitesell and Franklin and Marshall or Mr. Scanlon or Mr. Bronk in English or "the Frau" in German at Loomis. But on the broader landscape of things, I know deep down I really do feel the rules "don't apply to me," if for no other reason than the fact that I feel in my deepest soul that the rules are foolish and made up, the educational equivelent of apartied.
I was telling my mom I think whatever has caused me to have this attitude has certainly effected my brothers as well. I hear some of the same sentiments from my brother Tim when it comes to architecture- that the quality of his work is consistently good, but he frequently rubs professors the wrong way because he refuses to work in studio (doing work at home instead) or wants to design in his own fashion rather than theirs. My mom of course tells me that eventually we will have to learn to follow the rules like everyone else. Maybe she is right, but at least in part I believe she's wrong. As I have said in previous posts on related topics- I suppose in my own perception of ideal success, I would like to do something different or creative- it seems to me the only success worth having, but to do this you need to be willing to in some respects break some rules- or at least feel that there aren't some.
What perhaps some of you may ask yourself is how a law student- someone who spends all of their time basically studying rules, can be so sure that rules are basically subjective. Well, after two years of law school- that is my one conclusion: the rules (and the law) are completely and totally subjective. Supposedly lawyers are the members of society working closest to the very rules of society itself, and yet what exactly do lawyers do? Tell people the rules? No- as Professor Gutoff recently said, "Lawyer are in the business of making arguments. That's what we produce- arguments."