The Logical Philosopher

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Choose your own Adventure

“So tell me, will I get sleep? People say I won’t, but I need it. They also tell me that I need more time away from the office, but I just made partner. How do I balance that?”

A friend I met during my ever so brief stint in law school just made partner this month in a large firm. Quite an accomplishment, because after working only a full 7 years of evenings, weekends and holidays, she’s are pretty much sure to be doing it for another 7 years. I’m sure Opinionistas would have something to say about that. When I spoke to her she sounded very excited about it, but was very worried about appearances as she was just about to take 4 months off for maternity leave for her first child that was due shortly.

I thought for a moment, and then laid it out for her. “You have to take your finger out” I said with conviction.

“Huh?” I heard, after a moment of silence.

“You know, your finger.”

“Is this somehow related to a piece of birthing advice? Because the way I’m feeling right now, even a well placed finger won’t be stopping this baby.”

“With the added baby and partner track at your firm, you’ve all of a sudden got too many bookmarks to manage.”

When I was younger my favorite novels were the Choose your own Adventure series. In fact, as a preamble to Logical Philosopher, one summer I even wrote my own Choose your own Adventure book – the summer of grade 5. Armed with a circa 1975 typewriter and a ream of yellow paper, I decided to become a writer. I don’t know what became of my first masterpiece, but I hope it was archived by my version of a Google cache back in the mid 1980’s – my mom’s baby boxes in the storage locker.

Without fail I would try to read these books in one sitting, trying to find the adventure ending I liked the best. A well honed process of small scraps of paper and fingers at certain junctions kept track of my choices – with the freedom of knowing I could undo a choice and path by flipping back a page or two. Inevitably I would find 3 or 4 paths and ending I liked, but I would have to try them all before I settled on how I wanted the story line to go.

This month I was questioned under oath about some of my previous choices in my academic life (details not forthcoming upon the advice of my attorney). What schools I went to. Why? How long? Why did I choose X University over Y University? When did I research my choices, and how much of the correspondence did I still have? On reflection of my day it made me think back to my life choices as my own Choose your own Adventure. It had explored many paths, researched results of choices, and made the best decision at that point in time. But, for some reason, I have always kept my finger in those older pages – just in case I get to a point I don’t like in my life, I can pickup where I want to restart it.

Unfortunately I realized my life book is getting so long, I am running out of fingers to keep tabs on the old decisions. A combination of age, children, school, work and lifestyle have spun into an ever growing, complex web of my life. The requirement of being a responsible husband and father also has a major impact on my bookmarks of life. The fallout is that as time marches on, going back to certain pages is becoming less of a reality. Like cement hardening, it has been a slow process, and over time I’ve reach a point where I can’t repour or reshape some of the steps, the bookmarks have been permanently removed.

It is not: I can’t do it all anymore
It is: I don’t have the luxury of time to do it all anymore

So after explaining my Choose your own Adventure theory to my friend, I continued on with my remove your finger advice.

“Move on. A kid is a whole Choose your own Adventure book in itself. Pick your chapters wisely, because now it’s really about to become more complex.”

There was another moment of silence on the other end of the phone. Then I heard her say, the words trailing off at the end “But I just made partner…”

She’ll figure it out, hopefully for her sake, sooner than later.