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Thursday, March 17, 2011


I think about my grandfather a lot now that I'm in law school. My grandfather's life was replete with the law: he was an FBI agent, an attorney, and ultimately a judge in the Utah state court system. He died shortly before I graduated college, before I even considered that going to law school would be a viable option for me. I wonder sometimes what it would be like if he were alive now. I know he would be tickled pink that I came to law school, and he would boast of it proudly to his bridge group and golfing companions. He would smile and chuckle to himself and say, "My granddaughter's going through law school."

I wonder what he would think if he knew how often I felt scared and incompetent and unsure of my chosen future profession. I wonder if he ever felt the same things when he went through law school. Somehow, from what I know of him, I don't think he would have felt as much self-doubt as I do, if indeed he were familiar with the concept at all. His mind was so analytical, so impassioned for learning, and I think maybe the instances of not knowing would have seemed an adventure to him, just another puzzle to unravel with his brilliant mind.

Of course, usually there is another side to the coin -- a private face behind every public facade that the world does not often get to see. Sometimes, in fact, when we see glimpses of that private face, we are horrified, because we realize that those whom we idolized in gold are really mere humans bespeckled with flecks of tarnish like the rest of us. That's probably true of everyone. But I think if it were ever not true of someone, it would have been not true of my grandfather. He seemed to be a WYSIWYG -- a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of man. It comforts me to hold on to that, whether or not it is true.

He wrote an autobiography, which I read when I was in the 9th grade. I partially re-read it a couple years ago when I began to digitize it and work on editing it -- a project I have never completed, but may finish some day. There's a story in the book that sticks in my mind: at one point, when my grandfather was a green Fibbie out in the field, he managed to leave his firearm in a public restroom and drive 20 or 30 minutes away before realizing what he had done. This was it for him, he thought. He would be in so much trouble if that gun wasn't there when he went back to look for it. He would certainly lose his job. By some great strike of fortune that my grandfather always seemed to have on his side, the gun was still in the stall where he left it when he finally made it back to the restroom. The way he must have felt during that 20 or 30 minute drive back to the restroom is probably similar to how I sometimes feel in law school -- like my career is about to go down the toilet before it has even had a chance to begin. So I think about things like that and it makes me feel like maybe I can get through it all by some lucky strike of fortune too. Maybe I can learn to overcome my self-doubt, or else cover it in a nice shiny facade of gleaming golden self-confidence.

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Dena said...

I still think about my grandmother the same way - because she was a wonderful grandmother. Not such a good mother, but I didn't know her as a mother. I tend to keep the stories of her parenting pushed to the way back of my mind because I like to remember her as one of the coolest ladies on the planet.

Sovknight said...

Self-doubt is an overlooked good thing. It keeps you in perspective. The world does not cater to the neat and orderly, as the default state of everything is chaos. Striving to make it better is a hearty ambition, and recognizing the potential for failure is important.

Having said that, I know you well enough to know that you are on the path to success. Just by taking the step forward and finding what it is you want to do in life is a major win. Most people don't even get that far. Having the courage to go and get it is even more admirable. There is no doubt in my mind that not only will you succeed, you will do it with honor and style. You have the best of both philosophies: A desire to accomplish, and the wisdom to understand that accomplishment comes with sacrifice. Not everything is positive, and not everything is negative. The whole point in life is to constantly find that balance. I think you will find it, and you will win.

heidikins said...

I love this post, absolutely love it. Thank you so much for sharing this Sra!


B.R. said...

I liked this a whole lot. It sounds like your grandfather had a confidence of spirit few people have both the constitution and nature to support. I find doubt, especially self-doubt to be a good motivator for the most part. Based on my experience, it doesn't get easier but it does get more bearable with time. Confidence, at east some of it, can be acquired too though.

Zachary Terry said...

Haven't thought of him in awhile. Thanks.
From thing's I've heard from Mom, I get the impression he did have a form of self-doubt, always wondering if he was doing the right thing. I don't know. I've got a copy of his memoir, too. I really should read it one of these days.

Sra said...

Memoir is probably a better word for it than autobiography. It reads a little clinically, but he was a judge after all. I thought that in editing it, I might try to put a little more readability to the prose, but I don't want to take away his voice either. I'm conflicted on that. In any case, I would like to create an e-version. Especially since I've been playing with formatting files for the Kindle these days, which is fun.

I know grandpa was a worrier, but I was never sure if his worry was always for others or if some of that was directed inward.

A.C. said...

I think of my grandparents' footsteps at certain times in my life as well. For instance, my grandmother came here from Irealnd as a young woman in hopes of making a better way of life. If she had not taken the gamble, where would I be today (perhaps not even born, but that's another story)? When contemplating changing countries so that my special needs child may have a better way of life, I can't help but think of her.

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