Thursday, July 13, 2006

On Christ, Buddha, Law School and my own feeling inadequacy.

Recently, on HBO, there was a discussion about feeling comfortable in your own skin, and that this was a benefit of growing older. I must still be young because I admit to not quite feeling comfortable in my own skin yet, namely this caused by a nagging suspicion that things could always be better. I'm jealous of those who are content with what they have and what they are. There is something deeply spiritual about being content, whether it is the Buddhist who has succeeded in purging themselves of desire, or the Christian who has given themselves up to the satisfaction the comes from knowing that what they have is what god desires them to have; both outlooks lead to the same calm contentment that I can only dream of. The irony in this statement, of course, is that I desire something that possession of would negate my desire of it!

What prompted this recent plunge into synaptic circles of jealousy and desire? A brief jog that I took through the U of Washington campus, that's what.

To start out with, for those of you who have never been to the UW before, the main campus is situated on a hillside in Seattle; the campus extends from the top of a fairly decent sized hill all the way down to the shores of Lake Washington. It is comprised of acres upon acres of green grass, tall pine trees, and esoteric looking brick buildings in which students design computer programs, learn medicine, and write English papers. The campus was designed, coincidentally, by the same team who designed the U of Idaho's campus (my alma mater) a hundred (give or take) years ago, and it always remind me of my home turf except for fact that it is bigger and grander (of course, when the UW student body is 50,000 vs. Idaho's 12,000 - it has too be). Idaho has a great campus. I was told once, by one of my Fraternity’s traveling consultants, that Idaho was one of the prettiest campuses he had been to in his travels across the country. It is better, by far, than her rivals of WSU or BSU, but to be truthful I know that Idaho's campus is only a slight version of the grander UW campus that is essentially a giant park by the lake.

On a north-west edge of campus is the Gates Law building, a recently constructed building built by a donation by Bill Gate’s father, a graduate of UW law and a founding partner in the mega NW firm of Preston, Gates and Ellis. The structure is home the UW law school (for those of you blind to the obvious) and is a testimony to the might of the law school (if not a tad bit extravagant, dare I say audacious). It was this massive edifice that stirred up my feelings (is it plural?) of jealousy.

I had applied to UW law but was denied, I wanted to be in that damn big edifice but they wouldn't let me in. I shouldn't feel ashamed, according to the schools statistics the admitted rate was only 20% (2 out of 10). I was admitted to a fine law school in its own right, Seattle U. A feat in itself, I suppose, as SU admitted rate is only 23-25%, which is still pretty low when compared to other schools such as Gonzaga and Idaho who have admitted rates in the 30%s. On paper, there is no reason for me to feel that I am any less of a person now than if I had been admitted to UW. The Seattle U bar passage rate is nearly identical to UW (both are nearly 10% better than either of the other regional schools like Gonzaga or the U of Idaho), the employment of grads for SU is even better than that of UW, SU has the number 1 writing program in the nation, and finally, it was SU that took 2nd place in the moot court competition to Harvard last year, not UW, Yale, or Stanford, but SU!! But, still, deep down I know that UW is the more prestigious school and because of that I have a little burning ball of desire in my belly that I have yet to quash.

So what is it that causes desire? I went on a walk around the SU campus the other day to ponder that question. In it's own way, the campus is extremely beautiful. It sits on Capitol Hill not far from downtown. The city bustles beyond it’s perimeter and the campus is truly an oasis in the hustle of the city, beautiful but humble in the Jesuit tradition. It is nice, truly nice, so why do I feel as though it is inadequate when compared to the UW. Is it just from an objective sense that the market value of the land and the buildings of SU must be less the UW, that the history and tradition is minor is comparison to UW as well? Does any of this really matter; is true value of the Seattle University less because of smaller campus market value? Both studies of Christ and the Buddha would say no, it just makes it different.

I can’t help to think that one of the wisdoms of age is learning to appreciate things in the abstract. To learn that a whole pie isn’t necessarily better than one piece of pie if you truly stop to appreciate the slice you are given, so to speak.

I don't really have a conclusion to this post. If I had, than I would be a much better man than I am. If only I could figure out what causes desire and quash it with a simple trip to Therefore, I will leave this open ended as it’s certain to be a question I’ll come back to.

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