By Shoshanna Silverberg
I find myself at what feels like bizarre crossroads. On the one hand, I have just completed what was one of the more challenging projects I’ve ever taken on — law school. This accomplishment came on the heels of years spent engaging in political advocacy at the grassroots and state level. On the heels of teaching yoga and meditation (self-care) to a variety of folks, from “at-risk” youth and human services professionals to legislators and their staff. And, on the heels of having completed a first degree, a Master of Arts in Holistic Thinking. The rub for me, in any of the ways that I assert my intellect and my spirit, is how to bring a sensitivity, an awareness, of thought as well as of feeling, into any realm of decision-making we as individuals and communities are involved in.
The crossroads I am at has emerged like a Frostian divergence in the wilderness of life after law school. Something inside of me has preferred a firm NO to practicing law, at least in the sense that we tend to understand legal practice traditionally. That is, the type that requires a license. Many times I have wished that a YES flowed more freely from me, so that I could embrace a path in the field of law which allowed me to fit more easily into the various compartments that conventional legal practice affords new graduates. I have wanted, with what feels like all of my heart, to again, fit into what has been done before. That I have been unable (so far at least) to answer yes is part of the crossroads. It allows me to avoid traveling down a path that I have observed being full of misery and lack of gratification for so many lawyers. It has also allowed me to take a pause and really intuit, really study, where it is I am intending, in my heart AND my mind, to travel next. But there are questions that have been raised in this in-between space of feeling like I am following my legal path and feeling like I am refusing to follow a legal path all at the same time.
See, what I have chosen to “do” with myself since leaving school is work for a start-up specializing in business consulting and fundraising for enterprises in the legal cannabis space. I am a personal assistant to be exact. I am learning about hedge funds and what it means to, quite literally, be building an economic empire. It is not what I ever imagined I would be doing with my degrees and my convictions and my life experience which has largely so far been grounded in the work of nonprofits.
I can say that I love my boss. I love my company. I am exposed to fascinating legal and political controversies every day. I am learning, slowly but surely, how to bring the stock market into my understandings of economics and am developing a limited but real vocabulary of terms from the field of finance. It all seems like very valuable information when I consider the possibilities for a sharing economy in an emerging industry. It’s very exciting when I dream about how the profit that is going to be made form legalized cannabis could be leveraged to facilitate healing (via, for instance, restorative justice programs) in communities where the War on Drugs has wreaked the most havoc over a period of decades. And yet, there is still some fear in me. Fear about whether it is okay that I am on what feels like a side of something — a side that. traditionally speaking, has been perceived by those of us in the activist community as being diametrically opposed to the aspirations we have for attaining a truly beloved community (encompassing access to health and prosperity for all). I guess I am experiencing an identity crisis in a way. And this identity crisis, or the experience of that, is what I want to highlight in this issue of PISLAP’s newsletter.
There is more I could share here from a personal perspective. I could share examples of times when I feel like my talents at facilitating dialogue about matters of the heart and mind are being overlooked or undercapitalized on because the demands of my job require me to focus on details that are “below” the type of change I am ultimately concerned with helping our integrative law movement to birth. There is nagging frustration because a part of me fears that I have signed up for something that is not really a match for my values, and that because of this, I am keeping myself from making the kind of difference I feel capable of making in the world. And yet, there seems to be a fairly simple lesson in patience and ego there — the trickier thing, the root of this fear, is what I’ve described above: the experience of this as a crossroads and the inner-conflict about identity which seems to accompany any choice that we as human beings make when it falls away from or outside the predicted parameters for our courses of travel in life. For me, this has to do with making choices that feel like they are taking me away from activism, and trusting my gut — that what I am learning on “the other side” is going to give me what I need to not only help change society, but open up the field of law.
**This post is being re-posted from its original version on Shoshanna's blog HolisticToolKit.com.