Where I’m Standing

“I know you’re probably worried about your score . . . .” My law skills professor looked at me ruefully. “But I don’t want you to worry, okay?”

Out of pure habit, I automatically nodded and smiled congenially. Heck, I think I might have even laughed a little—a rattling, tittering little laugh to fill the office space while my GPA, law career, faltering belief in my intelligence, and the student loans all started bumping around in my head. I attempted to follow what the professor was saying about my work while my mind raced ahead to the inevitable—though impossible—calculations of my overall grade in the class. As I hunched on the edge of the chair, it occurred to me that a small office room was like a box. My fist seemed to glue itself to my chin as I leaned my elbow on the professor’s desk. I vaguely tried to adjust my expression. The professor kept trying to explain where I needed to improve, flittering out little notes in the margins of my paper on the computer screen. I kept nodding. Either by reluctant acceptance or dulling shock, thankfully I didn’t tear up or do any blubbering. I just kept smiling and murmuring “okay, yes” as we lightly discussed how I had epically failed to “get it.” I wonder if she’d notice if I crawled out of the office? Maybe that’s why she has that nice, soft rug just inside the door in the first place . . .

I confess I caved in pretty deep for the next half of the day, and all my classmates who had the misfortune of meeting up with me were treated to a regaling of my woes. Oh well. I figured I would give myself over to gloominess for at least a certain measure of time for form’s sake . . . Ahem! However, I tell you, that business of being dejected is no fun! So, I soon decided I had had just about enough of that. After all, there was work to be done.

Thus, with a blurred eye and a tight jaw, I finally sat down and started working through the memo again. Despair turned to resolve. My fingers began to move more quickly over the keyboard. I was going to sort out the problem, and that was just all there was to it. Pored over the writing lab computer in the LRC, I found solace in working. I soon felt much better as renewed determination began to kick in.

And you know, I’ve noticed this. Determination and tenacity more than actual brains has often been my saving grace, and, while it’s frustrating, I don’t think this is a bad thing. In an ideal sense, I would rather have fought the good fight than have something handed to me by virtue of some talent I happen to possess. This is because it keeps me humble, it keeps my ego in check, and it keeps me in fighting trim. Will I win? I don’t know. I don’t know if I can turn this memo around—which is one small, but important, skirmish in the larger battle of gaining my law degree. The point is that I don’t want to look back and think I crumbled when the pressure was on. The point is honor and fortitude. I want to know that I tried my very best. Even if the results are not something I can be proud of, then at least I can be satisfied with the effort I put in. At least I will have fought the good fight. The scores, the winnings, the results—I will just have to let those go.

I should let them go. In Vedic scripture and philosophy, it is said that one should not be attached to the results of one’s actions. This is because the results that you reap from your actions, whether good or bad, merely bind you and your happiness to the material world rather than the spiritual world. Part of this idea is that if I am forever trying to satisfy myself with the fruits of my endeavors in life, I will only be constantly reminded that, in the end, it’s beyond my control. Even when things turn out right, everything in this world is temporary. I think it is much better to bypass the necessity of success altogether, and glimpse the bigger picture. Just think, in the entire cosmic manifestation there exists a tiny, tiny galaxy. In that tiny galaxy is an itty-bitty solar system, and in that itty-bitty solar system is a speck of a blue planet. On that planet are billions of people, living, dying, enjoying, suffering, feasting, and starving . . . and I am one of them. For a moment, will you walk outside with me now and look up at all the millions of stars? I ask you, would it really be worth crying over the fact that my legal writing for law skills class still needs work?

With this in mind, I’m not going to set myself on things as meaningless and transient as a grade or score. I am not a machine or some hunk of lifeless matter, and as such I cannot be sustained with material things or achievements. As a living being, my ultimate sustenance lies in what is eternal and nourishing to my spirit–not my body, brain, or ego. I must strive for what really makes me happy in the long run. I know that basing the meaning of my life on spiritual goals rather than material ones will enable me to transcend all the confusion and chaos that life bombards me with. Today is an example of this.

Today reminds me of how I’d like to be. I’ve always been a silly girl with an imagination, but sometimes I used to like to pretend I was an aspiring warrior like in old stories. Silly girl, I know—but I still like that idea. I like the idea of charging in with my sword drawn. And if I had a shield, I think it would have symbols on it. I think it would be graven with symbols of God, of loved ones, and of all those I wish well. It would be emblazoned with the standards of love, devotional service, courage, and truth. These are my sheltering talismans wherever I go and whatever I do. Everything else? Everything else is just a passing battle to be won or lost and—finally—set in the past. And, yes, I know I will lose battles . . . but I don’t think I’ll lose the war.

Okay, legal memos, final exams, law school—I’m still standing!

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