— is my current gripe with myself these days.
Do you get those feelings at all, those panic attacks that maybe yesterday’s you was smarter than today’s you? I know I do.
Like a few hours ago, in Rockwell, I was looking at the books in Fully Booked while waiting for my blockmates who i’d be meeting for dinner, and I saw this book that goes something like “100 Books You Should Read Before You Die”. I browsed through it idly and then realized I have only read maybe one third of the selection. But that’s not what REALLY scared me. What scared me was the realization that an overwhelming majority of the titles that I actually read from the list of must-read books was read from the period of 1995-2000 (late high school to College graduation.) That means, I have not been getting my fill of the important books for nearly a decade.
Second. I have recently been reading stuff I’ve been writing, and this I can say with utmost conviction: the best stuff I wrote (and certainly, they were “best” only in comparison to the other Jae works), I wrote from 1998-2000, the period of time when i was under the instruction of the best journalism and creative writing teachers of the Philippines. Not only have I not been able to polish my writing, but it has apparently been on steady decline.
Third. While I love my work and the people I work with, 90% of the things I learned in law school I do not apply on a day-to-day basis. I worry that the time will come when I eventually forget them and I lose, not only the stuff I learned, but also the rigor and discipline we were taught — the skill of looking at the law as one does a puzzle or a rubix cube. I am grateful for the instruction of my former boss, Mabel, one of the sharpest and meticulous AR lawyers around, because of her mastery of the law and her work ethic. I liked showing my work to her and it gave me a high when she validated my legal arguments. Her command of the law is something I aspire for, but I’m still a long, long way from that.
Fourth. I haven’t learned anything new (as in a hobby or a craft) recently. I told myself I’d learn at least one exotic foreign dish, but I’m way past the deadline I set for myself.
Fifth. I have a sneaking suspicion my comprehension skills have gone down. A few days ago, I was reading a recent article in The Economist recently on the world financial meltdown and I discovered to my consternation that I have been reading the same paragraph over and over. And this isn’t even some fancy highfallutin economic treatise. This is The Economist. Sold in 7-11, beside the pack of condoms by the counter.
I woke up at 3am today (it’s 5am now) and scared myself silly at the thought of going completely stupid. As in completely daft. As in malunggay-deficient, Sarah-Palin-level kabobohan. I know, it’s so weird, people usually stay up at night over a wide variety of fears like dying or getting their house foreclosed or being cheated on by the person I love. I on the other hand am scared that I’m dumbing down. Which is not to say that I think I used to be brilliant. Hell no. You can still go on a steady decline from a peak that’s not very high.
I’m not simply whining here. I’m identifying a problem in order to come up with a concrete action plan. I don’t have an action plan yet, but I’m giving myself three days to figure it out. Feeling ko it has to be something super clear like read one important book a month, or digest cases instead of doing Facebook in my free time. Or get one complicated issue completely outside my realm of experience or knowledge and understand it completely, enough to be able to talk like an expert on it. Any other suggestions?
The only thing I take comfort in right now is that I know what the Bush Doctrine is. 🙂