Elster's World

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Life Sized Spam Filter

A woman from my office quit today. She had been talking about this for some time, but she finally worked up the nut to actually go through with it. She walked into the partner's office and gave notice through the end of the month.

Here's the funny thing. This woman was going to make partner in the firm this year. It was almost a slam dunk. Partnership is supposedly every attorney's end game. A bite from the apple. More security, eventually more money. Real respect. The end game.

Yet, she decided she'd rather walk away. To do what? She isn't sure yet. Maybe she'll open a retail location like a toy store or a clothes shop. She has no idea. She only knew that she had burned out and it was time to go.

Believe it or not, this is not about to turn into a rant about how much I hate my job and would quit in a second but for my monetary considerations. I'm sure you are all relieved. Everyone knows this already anyway. So what is this post about? Simply put what lessons can we all take from this person's decision to walk away?

Life is hectic to the point of ridiculous. Sara mentioned to me that often life is frenetic to the point of being senseless. And that's the trick. To get life to slow down enough for you to make sense of it all. Great basketball players are often described as possession the ability to have the game "slow down" - to the point that they can "see" events unfolding almost in slow motion - and allowing them to make the plays that others cannot. Real world issues operate the same way. The world is so crazy, that even when good things are happening to us we often lack the ability to actually enjoy them. Too many things circle around us at all times -almost like vultures over a fresh kill - keeping us from focusing on what we need to be focusing on.

Life is the ultimate spammer. Its endless energy is reminiscent of a New York City rush hour. It's simply flying at you at speeds that your brain cannot process effectively. It's throwing things at you all day long. You attempt to categorize important and not important, but it's easy to lose the forest in the trees. So when your sitting at your son's bar mitzvah, you are worried about the big deal you are closing next week. When you should be helping pick flowers for your daughter's wedding, instead you are worrying about some other of life's great trivialities.

Unfiltered lifespam is what causes people to be unable to appreciate even the great moments in their lives. For me, lifespam takes the form of job hating. For some, it's school worries. For others, its relationship issues. And hell, I'm the first person who needs a lifespam filter. I have major difficulty separating the forest and the trees. I get sucked into the great unfiltered jumble as badly as anyone. Worse than most, I'd even say.

And that's one of the reasons people often look back at their lives with regret. It's not always about the failed chances or the chances never taken, sometimes it's simply the failure to even enjoy what you had - to ever sit back with those roses and actually smell the damn things. To take a moment to push aside the lifespam and take in the moment.

And that's why I have great envy for those with the spam filters built in. You people (I say derisively) don't know how good you have it.


  • Good post. You have more angst than most and also more self-awareness than most.

    Perhaps this woman quit precisely because she was going to make partner. The pressures on a junior partner are often worse than that of a senior associate.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 5:11 PM  

  • Thank you Joe - I quite agree.

    Actually, she and I have spoken about this often. She was just burning out - didn;t feel she could do this job anymore. She has no idea what it is she wants to do, but she knows it aint this.

    By Blogger Elster, at 5:29 PM  

  • wow. good for her!

    thing is, when you pass one of those lifetime job security hurdles, "they" trick you into believing you are home free. but the truth is, they own you -- cuz no one in their right mind is gonna walk away from that. it's the mindset we get from the start of our professional training -- it's the goal, the prize, everything-you-ever-wanted-or-could-wish-for. we CAN'T leave. how the heck do you unlearn THAT?

    but once you start to extricate yourself from the web....the sense of exhiliration and liberation floods in. you feel like you are making choices, instead of waiting (and working your a$$ off) to be chosen.

    life doesn't slow down -- but you can move through it (life) with more deliberation because the choices really are yours.

    at least, that was my experience.

    By Anonymous iamokayasanonymous, at 8:11 PM  

  • My favorite post from you so far. Eloquent, accurate, infuriating.
    Lifespam, indeed.

    By Blogger Dayli, at 7:00 AM  

  • iam - Nice idea.

    Day - I see that you have been quite eloquent on your blog as well.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:30 AM  

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