So, to celebrate the end of another summer, and my 3 years with the Alaska Public Defender Agency (which was yesterday), I went to one of my favorite places on Earth, Tustumena Lake. The day was amazing. The fall colors stunning. The boat ran flawlessly. It is almost getting too easy. I am getting to know the lake and the boat. Where are the fires? The close calls? I am even beginning to be the guy. The guy who knows where the cabin is. How to launch properly. Where the water is safe and unsafe. How the hell did that happen? Jesus, don't ask me....how the hell would I know.....except sometimes now I do know. Of course I still have a million things to learn. I am not getting cocky...just surprised at all I have learned. It is days like this that really make a difference. I must admit that lately I have been feeling a little down. Wondering if this is all there to life. But then I feel guilty for feeling that way. I mean look at my girls! Look at my life. I am where I wanted to be. And after 3 years in Alaska, there is really no part of it that I regret or wish had happened differently, except maybe regarding the girls PFD. But they will get that. Oh yes, they will. I guess what I can't figure out is whether in life you are supposed to realize each day that you are happy? Or is it that you should realize that you have been happy? I don't know. I am rambling. I think this constant 'hunger' for a 'better' life that I feel is a good thing, even if it is something that I often dash my happiness against. I think my life will only get better. Soon the girls will be on all my adventures with me. I am secure in my job and professional reputation. And I live in Alaska. 3 years on and I still think it is the most amazing place on Earth. I hope that one day I look back at this and realize that I was happy. Well except that I cannot beat Jesse in crib.

Comments

Anonymous said…
A man that talks about his feelings the way that you do is the definition of "gay". Who the f gets scared of old man depression? very queerlike...the only thing you are documenting is your gayness.
I wouldn't say scared. I would say bewildered. It is not something that I really remember feeling before October 2007. I find that writing about it helps me. But thank you for your insightful comment.
operator101 said…
You gonna be drunk at the PDs' conference tomorrow and Friday?
Anonymous said…
Your sadness is caused by the weight you’re carrying on your shoulders. You are trying to live a moral life, which is a difficult task. Life is definitely made easier by taking moral shortcuts—affairs, dirty business deals, stealing. You’re taking the hard, moral road.

Plus, you are trying to represent all of your clients well. Face it, that’s impossible given your caseload. Even when you do a good job, you’re practicing triage. Triage implies deciding, ultimately, who lives and who dies. Even the most jaded PD must admit that that’s heavy.

By all observations, Ben, you’re trying to be a good husband too—present, loving, a provider, passionate—but being a good PD is in direct conflict with that goal. Even if you get home at 5:00, your mind is often still at work. There’s just too much to think about for the thoughts to only occur between 8:00 and 5:00. And while I’m sure your wife wants a husband that’s passionate about his work, I’m also sure she’d love to bathe in money for once and have a husband who was physically and mentally present.

Oh yeah, your girls. You want to be all of those good things for them too—caring, a teacher, an example—but it’s really tough to do that when you're thinking about creative bail arguments.

So, Ben, consciously or unconsciously, you’re failing at everything that means something to you, simultaneously. The judges aren’t satisfied, your clients want more, you know your wife and kids deserve more. Worse yet, you truly believe all of these people deserve more. That’s a big weight to carry. But that sense of failure is what we signed up for. Right? Would doing anything less—anything short of being the best person, attorney, husband, and father—really be worth doing?

Did I mention that you live in Alaska? And that there are probably hundreds of days you’d rather just say screw it and spend a month hunting on Skilak’s distant, sunny shores? And not head back for work Monday. But you can’t. You live the neutered existence of an office drone. No offense man, it takes one to know one! Especially in Alaska, where ideally we’d all be starring in our own Cabela’s porno, trying to support a family by wearing a jacket and tie can be depressing.

So not only are you working your ass off and failing in every major area, you’re not even getting to do what you really want as a reward. Not too hard to see why you’re depressed now, is it!

But give me the name of one big ‘success’ who truly was, in any holistic sense of that word. Ghandi completely abandoned his wife and children. Lincoln was not much of a husband either. Hello Kennedys! There are so many examples of ‘great’ authors and athletes that were on their third wife, screwing their stepdaughter, or stepson. Look at all of the ‘successful’ trial attorneys that are divorced alcoholics. ‘Success’ had a pretty high price for them. Truly being the best in one pursuit usually means being among the worst in others.

So of course you're depressed. You’re not living up to your standards in any important area of your life, but at least you are struggling to be at least honorable and sometimes awesome in each. Most of the world never even gives it a shot. Never. There's depressing!

For those of us who strive to be great, it is saddening to know that we are failing and worse to know we are failing every day. I’ve felt that sadness profoundly, but have always hoped that there is some honor in the struggle and an eventual reward for doing what is right.
Anonymous said…
Ben,

Remember my post a long time about 'Life is boring'?

Rmember that now.

You have a wife, and 2 healthy kids. Already you are ahead of the pack.

You have a job that you find tolerable. And in my universe, you can't ask for more than that, tolerability.

You are in Alaska-which is where you want to be.

You even are becoming self sufficient with gardening and livestock! You don't have to choke down meat laced with chemicals!

"being happy" is an unacheivable goal. Happiness is impossible.

The question rather, is, are you 'content'? If yes, then shut the fuck up and cook a moose-steak

Angie
Angie and Anon. Thank you.

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