Sunday, November 24, 2013

Figure Skating and Tandem Bikes: Jessica Gingold, 1L, on Finding Spirituality in All the Right Places

I did a TALK at law school a couple of weeks ago. 
(if you click on that link, you will be directed to a 35 min video of said talk)

And this picture was blasted to the entire student body and plastered around the halls to induce fellow law students to come hear what I had to say on... spirituality. 

Me as Annie (obviously)
Yep, I talked about spirituality at law school. To be clear, I didn't just wake up one day and say, "man, I really need to tell law students about my spiritual journey through life," and then proceed to organize this. I know I have an ego, but it isn't that outrageous. Rather, I did this talk as part of a student-run effort to get law students to share a bit more with each other than outlines and notes. I discovered TALK, as they call themselves, at the start of the semester, and quickly found it to be one of the few communities within the law school that fully tapped into who I am and what I love most in life (their website can be found here). They wanted a 1L to present, as there had only been 2L and 3L TALKers thus far, and thus I stepped up.

***Spoiler alert: below this I will write a little bit about the content of my talk, so if you'd rather watch it, click here***

As most people who know me know, I am a Unitarian Universalist (UU). I went to church nearly every Sunday for the first eighteen years of my life. I was nurtured by a spiritual community that didn't exactly give me the big metaphysical answers, but did provide me with the tools to continuously ask questions and seek my own truth. When I was sixteen I had to write a spiritual autobiography as part of our coming of age program. I wrote that the most spiritual things in my life were the love of my brothers and...figure skating. In preparing this talk, I was able to process what those symbolized in my life then and now. On a walk through the woods with my dad, he reflected back to me that it was maybe the combination of being surrounded by a loving community while being vulnerable in my own individual pursuit--community/vulnerablity. The balance of those elements were my spiritual grounding. This frame was helpful to me in charting what my spiritual path has been since I was a 16-year-old, thrift-store-clothes-wearing, Ani-Difranco-blasting, emotional girl. When I have felt more distant from my community or stagnant in pushing my own limits, I have floundered. When I feel love and support of those near and far and am vulnerably fording ahead, I have thrived. Here at law school I definitely feel my personal limits being tested, and doing this talk was part of my way of contributing to a community that can provide me with the love that sustains. 

It is maybe a bit odd that now in my first semester of law school I have submitted a story about peeing my pants to my contracts professor and told a room full of law students about running away from a meditation retreat. Don't worry, I have also read a lot of cases with words like assumpsit and tortfeasor. Law school is unlike any educational experience I have had to date. It is less interested in our individual personalities (at this point), and more interested in having us learn and analyze the law. We don't write reflective papers or share our own stories. I am not in ed school anymore. At times this is a huge challenge for me. Though, I also realize that there is value in learning the law in this way, of being forced to step away from and challenge my subjective understanding of the world. Somedays are better than others. But, I am definitely learning. Doing this talk was a small way for me to carve out space to be me in this experience that does not necessarily demand that of us. Maintaing a spiritual grounding in the day-to-day is a balancing act. One I am far from mastering, but grateful to be trying again and again. Even while I am at law school.