Why Twilight Makes Me Want to Quit My Job
It was on my honeymoon that I realized a career change was in order. My catalyst: the Twilight saga. I wish I were joking — this is how it happened:
It began on our flight to Dubai, the first stop on our honeymoon itinerary. The flight from JFK to Dubai is long — I had 10+ hours of flight time ahead of me, after dinner. Luckily, Emirates has dozens of in-flight movies, available at your seat, on command. After a long year of late work nights and wedding planning, I needed something that would be easy to follow with minimal effort. Not to mention, my pop-culture IQ was (and, frankly, still is) offensively low. The documentary on Anna Wintour was tempting, but required too much concentration. Twilight, and then New Moon, were just the answer. And that’s when my journey really began.
Fast forward three days to the Dubai airport, waiting to board the next flight on our honeymoon itinerary. I had just finished reading Water for Elephants, which I had chosen for the trip after it had sat on my bookshelf for four years, untouched and accumulating an embarassing amount of dust. I wanted another book and after the cliffhanger at the end of New Moon (don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about), my cells were craving Twilight. I scored the first volume at an airport bookstore. I was hooked. So intense was my need for each subsequent volume that I picked one up in every African country that we visited, in one case requesting my new husband (Mr. Zegna) and our guide indulge me in a long detour to find a bookstore near Mt. Kilimanjaro, nearly causing us to miss our next flight. I thought that only tweens and small-minded people were susceptible to this madness. How, I wondered, did this happen to me? And why did I all of a sudden feel that I had to quit my job IMMEDIATELY?
First, the books made me aware of how little time we have in which to make our short lives sweet. The juxtaposition of vampire life and human life is stark. Human life is short and, despite our best intentions, probably meaningless in the grand scheme of things. So, to the extent that we have the capacity for a truly Meaningful life, we will probably die long before we have a chance to realize on it. Previously, I had viewed my fungibility as limited to Biglaw. All of a sudden, “SURPRISE SAMANTHA!”, said the Universe, “I agree with your vapid bosses — you are intrinsically irrelevant.”
Sadly, the most meaningful thing that most humans will do is procreate which, incidentally, is the most meaningful thing that animals — like the Magellanic penguin, for example — will do. Unlike the Magellanic penguin, however, humans aren’t endangered. In fact, we are parasites and it would probably be more meaningful if we didn’t procreate. So what is the point?
Now, compare the human condition just described to Twilight’s vampires, who not only are immortal, but also do not need sleep. How many languages did Edward speak? Six? Not that this made his life meaningful, but he at least had an opportunity to really understand the world. Edward at least could fully appreciate why his life was pointless. More significantly, perhaps, he had an endless amount of time to suck what he could out of life (no pun intended). My existential angst would evaporate in the face of all of that precious time. By contrast, I had been floating through my life on autopilot, generally unhappy, understanding nothing of the human condition, in a job that sucked my soul dry, waiting for the next benchmark: financial security (check), married (check), kids, kids to college, retirement, death. My meaningless life was living me. I wondered what could make my irrelevant life feel more meaningful.
That brings me to the second point behind my Twilight awakening. Bella’s ending — immortality, including the ability to survive without sleep, surrounded by everyone she has ever loved (except for her Mom, sadly), more than a few of whom were positioned to live into eternity right beside her– would be my ending if I could choose it. But I can’t, first because I am a human and second because I am a Biglaw associate. Biglaw associates are generally captive to their firms. So long as I am not billing 8 hours per day, any time I take for myself, my family, my friends, etc. is stolen time.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but having to return to work after this revelation (and after a fabulous 3-week honeymoon) felt more like being hauled into jail than it ususally does after a vacation. Unlike jail, however, my one phone call was to a shrink, who had been recommended to me months before and whose name I had kept handy in an uncharacteristic bout of foresight.
The Twilight books (and perhaps also the act of getting married, which in itself marks the passage of time) woke me up to to my reality. Living on autopilot — mostly numb, sometimes miserable, and occasionally happy — is no longer an option. I am very conscious of every wasted moment. It is time to make a change.
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Tags: career change, lawyers, Life, Twilight