Last night the Sports Dude and I attended the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic holiday concert and couldn’t help but notice all the smiling and happy lawyers in the room.
Yes, we’ve all heard the negative stories about how there are no jobs for recent law school grads, high suicide rates, and a high percentage who are unhappy, and would not do it again. But that cannot be the beginning, nor the end, of the story. Last night, the founder and conductor of the orchestra, Gary S. Greene, Esq., told a great story about George Frideric Handel. Apparently, when Handel was young and showed a talent for music, his parents got rid of his piano because they wanted him to be a lawyer. Could you imagine?? You have a pure talent, and yet you are forced to bury it to become a lawyer. However he did it, Handel was able to pursue his passion for music and avoid becoming another unhappy lawyer statistic. Yes, the world was minus one lawyer, but in return we received many musical gifts, including the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76RrdwElnTU] Listening to The Hon. Steven Perren, Justice of the California Appellate Court, singing “O Sole Mio,” or the world premiere of “The Ruritanian Dances” by Justice George Palmer, Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was law their first choice?” How many of these talented men and women in this orchestra secretly desired to be professional musicians, but were instead shuttled off to law school by their parents?? I am a firm believer that you need to be passionate about what you do. But what if you’re not? What if you’re 45-years old, have a spouse, a mortgage, a couple of kids to put through college, with a law firm partnership, but you really want to be a chef? While I’m sure there are many lawyers out there whose passion is analyzing U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the question is “Is it yours?” I very much enjoy what I do for a living, but I am happiest when writing, cooking a formal meal, or in the pit at a concert, because those are my personal passions (outside of my kids, of course). I am also extremely passionate about social media, and have found a way to integrate that into my life and my career. I am extremely content, and, yes, happy every day (although it wasn’t always like this, but that’s a different story). I suppose where I’m going with all of this is that if you cannot LIVE your original passion, you have to at least experience and enjoy it on a regular basis. You need to embrace that part of you that was perhaps stifled in pursuit of a law degree, or your current career. You owe it to yourself to integrate your passion into you life, if not on a daily basis, than weekly at the least. Just think, every Monday night at a church in LA’s mid-Wilshire neighborhood, there’s a room full of lawyers, judges, law students and the like making sweet music. One hundred or so happy legal professionals experiencing and expressing their passion. Life is too short. Happiness too fleeting. Make your passion happen. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic