Since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you
…and kisses are a far better fate
E.E. Cummings poetry can be a provocative way to begin an attorney wellness blog. But when it comes to talking about how most lawyers live their lives stuck in their heads, provocative is probably just what’s needed. Everything about Cummings’ poetry—his scrambled words, missing punctuation and unconventional structure, reminds us it is a mistake to allow our experience to be limited by reason…that it is a sad day when the rational drives how we live our lives and how we relate to the world around us. How can emotion be bottled up in sentences and interrupted by commas, colons, and spaces? Emotion is a never-ending run-on sentence that should not (and cannot) be diagramed or dissected or intellectualized.
The problem for us lawyers is that the thinking mind plays a huge role in what we do. Law is about order and structure and the application of reason. This is how justice is achieved. And the primary tool for the ordering, structuring and the application of reason, is the thinking mind.
The thinking mind is a powerful and necessary tool. But here’s the thing—it’s only a tool. It was never meant to be in charge. It was meant to serve, not rule, the heart. When it comes to living a life, order and structure really are secondary to emotion and feeling. While this sounds like heresy to a lawyer, all of the poetic and spiritual traditions tell us that it is true. The heart always triumphs over reason. When we allow the strategic/thinking mind to run our lives we find ourselves excessively ruminating, questioning, and scenario planning. We are always deliberating. We wonder whether we should or shouldn’t do something. And all of this rumination holds us back from living.
As Jason Silva reminds us, when you finally catch that wave and you’re the surfer, there is no time to think anymore. You just start being. The thinker and doer merge. There is no monkey mind, no inner chatter. You are outside yourself and you are outside of time.
And that’s where the magic happens. That is the place from which great art emerges. And, ironically, it can also be the place from where our best work is done.
So ride the wave. Dance like no one’s watching. Sing like no one’s listening. Love like there’s no tomorrow.