One at a Time

Today marks the end of this semester’s last full week of classes at Pepperdine School of Law.  Two more days next week, several “dead” days, and a couple of weeks of final exams remain so we surely aren’t done, but today feels significant because this academic year is almost, pardon the pun, in the books.  The 1Ls will soon be rising 2Ls, the 2Ls will soon be rising 3Ls, the 3Ls will soon be law school graduates, and the faculty and staff will still be faculty and staff.

So most of us are in a mood.

I like to think of it as an antsy-yet-over-it, needy-but-don’t-touch-me, slightly nauseous, hyperactive zombie sort of mood.

There is something terrible about being so close in time to a finish line while remaining so far away in the amount of work.  All you can think about is being finished with it all, but that simply distracts you from making any progress on the pile of whatever that stands before you.  It is as if the nightmare where you are trying to run to safety but for some reason cannot get your legs to work came true.

One of my favorite books on writing (and just, ever) is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  She describes the book’s title this way:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

That is my advice to law students as well as life students when the sheer amount of what lies ahead seems a bit daunting.  Just take it one step/day/hour/bird/whatever at a time.

One response to “One at a Time

  1. Kari Coppinger

    Yes! Bird by bird. One of my favorite stories has become one from a former coworker, Jan, whose husband died suddenly and young. Jan’s elderly, widowed neighbor offered this about grieving. “Honey, people will tell you to take it one day at a time. But I say, ‘Jesus, just give me 5 more minutes!'”

    Liked by 1 person

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