Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Becoming a Lawyer as an Artist - A Note

Lobster / Cat - by Picasso
(One of my favorite paintings)
After passing the bar, back in May of 2013, I came to Cabo. I'll never forget what it felt like to run across the wet sand beach, with the crashing waves, and the sunset in the background - flaring the sky, in hues of purple, orange, and red, like a painter's palette. That run made me feel as free, as free as the wild horses on the planes are, when they run, run, run. Nothing could make you feel more alive.

Now, that I'm back, I have a new feeling. I'm convinced there's something very magical, powerful, and freeing about the Mexican, Baja Peninsula. No wonder why Steinbeck took his story, The Pearl, from La Pax, Baja, Mexico. 

On this trip, I must say, I felt like a spirit came upon me, my muse, and demanded that I create art. I had this experience thrice, now. 

The first time was a very sacred moment for me. The second time, I was in a train, going through the Taiga, the Siberian forest, where the the white birch trees extended endlessly, through the horizon. Their leaves looked like flakes of gold and shards of ruby and topazes. During the Siberian autumn, the dying light casted a ghostly shadow on the white birch trees, reminding you, that you were also in a holy place between earth and the phantom plane. And while reading, that spirit came upon me, calling me to write too.

Now, that muse has come again. But this time, it feels like there's an energy beneath my feet, a sort of magic carpet, that's telling me we're off on some great journey into distant and undiscovered lands. I don't know what's there, or who I'll be meeting. I only know, I don't have a choice but to see where it takes me. 

I don't know why, but the fleeting glimmers I have of the future give me an overwhelming sense of excitement and discovery. I wonder, if this is how Columbus or Walter Raleigh felt, after sailing for ages, when they saw the speck of dot on the horizon, the harbinger that a new world awaited him.

It's on this trip, I feel called to be an artist. And by artist, I don't mean the conventional type you're thinking up in your head. I'm not called to buy a French beret, sit on a Parisian street, and start painting with oil on canvas (though I know how to paint with oils). 

I guess, I knew I was headed for that journey, when my brother asked me, "Aren't you afraid of what those Baldwin Park City Council thugs will do to you for always writing about them?"

And I said, "Not really. Because I know whatever happens, I've done my part, and my work will live on, even if I'm no longer around."

Without realizing it then, you know when you're becoming an artist, when you know that you have confidence that your work is an entity separate from you and has its own life. And in my last conversation with professor, I told him about my oral argument at the Court of Appeals. I said, "I think we're changing the practice of law, professor." And I really believe we are, by employing new techniques, themes, ideas, and visions.

Then that feeling came again. While in Cabo, as I was writing my Petition for Review to the Supreme Court, I felt like it was much different than the previous briefs I wrote before. I looked at it, and thought, This piece is different, and it's expressing something larger than Baldwin Park, larger than me, larger than any brief I wrote before. Then I understood what it was expressing: It was a collective vision that we've created, for living in a better world.

I woke up in the last few days, feeling a sense of malaise - which means a sense of having a tortured spirit. I need to do more writing, I thought. So, I started writing a law review article for my Visiting Scholar Program, and it was like a spirit took hold of me and punched the words onto my word processor for me, like I was in some trance-like (but elated) state of being.

I looked at my work, and thought, Oh, this is very different too. This, too, is a piece that's trying to communicate something that needs to be said now and in ages passed.

And, I'm writing this as a record. I feel like this journey is and has been forging and transforming my soul, like burning carbon changes iron into steel. The entire character of the metal transforms.

I came across this quote by Noble Laureate, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who said, "For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones."

Do you know why great writers are like second governments? Because they're trying to create a new kingdom, a better world, for all of us to live in with their words. They want their friends, family, and even those who they don't know - to become citizens of a noble kingdom - a place they could be at peace at, a place they could be proud to call home.

It dawned on me, on this trip. Revolutionaries and artists are the same. They have a vision for the world. And they want everyone to know about it.

I've heard it said that lawyer are to be problem solver or advisor or writers or professionals. I never heard it said, but firmly believe that truly great lawyers should think of themselves as artists. We'll never create bridges or buildings or new technologies, but we should attempt to be architects of law, having words as tools, attempting to create new monuments within our existing system of law. And the same should be true, for whatever profession you are in. 

No wonder why James Joyce said, “Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

No comments:

Post a Comment