Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Weight or Lightness?

Sunday, I attended a fireside given by Dr. Wilford Griggs, a professor at BYU and an Egyptologist. It was tremendously interesting and took me back to sixth grade when I wanted to be an Egyptologist and I spent some time trying to learn Egyptian hyroglyphics after visiting the Ramses exhibit at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Griggs talked a little bit about the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and there was one part that particularly struck me - Before entering heaven, the deceased person's heart is weighed on a scale, balanced against a feather. To pass the test and enter into heaven, you heart must be lighter than the feather. Presumably, what weighed your heart down was sin, but I think there are plenty of other things that weigh my heart down that would make it difficult for pass this test. I have stated before that I feel this enormous sense of guilt for all of the world's wrongs, and at the same time, I feel this intense obligation to know exactly what is wrong with the world. I have to find the injustice and learn about it for fear that if I don't, then I am somehow complicit in it. So is the weight of awarness of the world's sorrows something that could keep me frmo the presence of God, as the Egyptians believed?

It reminds me of one of my favorite passages in modern literature, written by Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
"Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
"What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"

These are answers that I don't have. I must admit, though, as someone who loves being aware of things, the allusion of needing a light heart to make it in the next life is extremely desirable. But of course, in my view of the next life, all of the sorrows of this world are made whole. Therefore, there isn't a need to be weighted down by anything. Whether we choose to allow the weight of this life to follow us into the next, I suppose, that is what the difference is.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I miss Manhattan, and the Bronx, for that matter

This week I have gotten several emails from Ed that have left me feeling quite nostalgic for New York and even the Bronx Family Court. It is amazing how in retrospect, I miss the job that I claim made me miserable. The weather in Seattle has taken a turn for the colder and grayer, and I find myself missing the New York City fall. I am just thinking about how if I would have stayed, I would have just made my three year anniversary date at the Law Department.

But what can be said for choices that we make. I still lament things and wonder where I would be if I would have made different decisions a long time ago. Lately, my biggest regret is not pursuing the Foreign Service after I passed the written exam. Perhaps if I would have done so I now would be fluent in French and not someone who has to resort to watching French movies non-stop for any exposure to the French language. Maybe it wouldn't be French, but some other language. Maybe I would be more like my friends from college who actually live in or work regarding the countries that they studied.

I don't want to be this person who is contantly living life in the past tense. Part of my decision to move to Seattle was to be someone who acts in life, rather than someone who lets things happen to them. One thing that I realized from this move is that although much of life is about taking your destiny into your own hands (as trite as that may sound), most of life is actually learning how to absorb the shocks and blows that you are dealt (I am trying to avoid an even more trite expression). I realize this sounds completely non-sensical when compared to my previous post regarding how I am single-handedly responsible for all of the world's faults.

We all are entitled to be somewhat contradictory - kind of like the contradiction of Manhattan and the Bronx both being a part of the same city and both being places that I love.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I really need to start posting my pictures again on my blog. My blog is dreadfully boring without them. I really need to stop being so cheap and just get the internet at home for my laptop.
My French obsession continues - now in the form of watching Francois Truffaut films - last night it was Mississippi Mermaid. I have decided that if I ever do get married, I would like a wedding dress like crazy Catherine Deneuve in that film. Tonight, I am going to rewatch The 400 Blows, which I have been meaning to do for quite a while, since I have forgotten it from my BYU International Cinema days.
I finished reading the book The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud.

It was a pretty good read. Since I am only a couple of years away from 30, am having serious career angst, and have lingering issues about growing up, I could definitely relate to some of the characters. I have frequently looked at others in my peer group and seen them doing so much at the same age as me and have felt like I have failed to live up to my potential. It was well written and although I didn't completely enjoy some of the plot developments, it was one of the better books that I have completed this year.

On to the next book - a history of the Indian Ocean during the age of colonialism, that I picked up from Elliot Bay the other night, and whose title is escaping me right now.

I will come back to this entry and try to post some pictures of the weekend that I spent with my sister in town. Sarah was here interviewing for a Post Doc position, because she is totally a science genius and is in high demand. I think she is going to go to Boston, but nonetheless, it was fun to try to woo her to Seattle. Seattle cooperated, with great weekend weather.
Saturday we woke up and went to Greenlake to run. Sarah ran for 2.5 hours, and I didn't make it anywhere close to that, but I did play 2.5 hours of tennis, which is always great fun (Note: I am now bouncing the ball an odd number of times before I serve). We also went to Bumbershoot that afternoon (after a brief stop at Natacha's wedding reception), which had the following highlights - Blondie, Roller Derby, Rogue Wave, and seeing Rebecca from San Francisco! That girl is one of the best things about the West Coast.
Sunday, we took the ferry to Bainbridge, and then saw lots of salmon at the Ballard Locks.
Monday, we tackled Mount Rainier, with Sarah running up the side of the mountain, and David and I doing whatever we could to will ourselves up its steep climbs.
Tuesday, after work, Sarah reminded me what it was like to actually go to the gym. If Sarah did move to Seattle, I would be in much better shape.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Who is to blame?

I could list out 101 reasons why I should never have chosen to become an attorney. Yesterday, was more manifestations of those reasons. I appeared at an asylum interview for a client I have from Somalia. It was a trainwreck. Today, and probably for all of the days forward, I will continue to blame myself for everything that goes wrong, not only in this case, but in every single case that I handle. I have such a trememdous guilt conscience that I can somehow trace everything that goes wrong in the world back to some deficiency in me. The collective weight of the world's sins are somehow my fault.
Writing it like that, it seems the most unreasonable proposition one can make. Yet somehow, it seems entirely logical in my mind. This is why I cannot be an attorney. I cannot stop blaming myself when things go wrong in people's lives, with whom I interact. When I don't win, the fault for losing the case is entirely on me. Perhaps if I was doing some type of law where the outcome of the cases didn't affect people in such a personal way I could deal with it. But when losing means my client potentially being deported back to a war torn county that has lacked a central government for 16 years, I just cannot deal with it. I cannot. Maybe I can give her my life and my identity and I can go back to Somalia in her stead. That can be my penance. She can be Leslie, Mississippi born. It is the only thing that seems right.