Last Classes, Cigarette Lighters, and Life Lessons…Maybe…

And so it ends.

Well, so it sort of ends.

Today was my last law school class. Today actually was my last class ever of my formal education. My dad asked me last night how I was feeling about the last day. I didn’t have an answer. Excited? Maybe. Reflective? Maybe. Stressed? Maybe. Tired? Maybe. Fine? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

My mood for the day is maybe. Yeah…I don’t know what that means either.

There might be several reasons for this. While my classes are over, I still have 4 finals that must be completed. The struggle isn’t quite at an end. Graduation, as well, is still 28 days from now. (Okay, typing that made me feel something—absolute terror!) I still have to spend the summer studying for the bar exam, which falls at the end of July. There’s just a lot of things still do and not a lot of time to do them. My mind is having a hard time processing.

I remember another time when my mind was struggling to process something.

My grandfather’s truck had a cigarette lighter in it. He didn’t smoke, but it was still there. (Apparently, cigarette lighters used to be a standard feature in vehicles.) For some reason, it always fascinated me and I would constantly play with it. However, I could never figure out how someone would actually light a cigarette from it. Finally, one day after grammar lessons, I pushed it and pulled it out. Smoke was drifting off it. For some reason, that I will never understand I touched it. Yes, I was an idiot. Yes, I burned my finger. I slammed the cigarette lighter back in place and sat in the front seat holding onto my finger, trying not to cry. I didn’t really understand what had happened. My mind wasn’t processing despite the reality of the situation.

All I could actually think about were Grandpa’s Truck Rules. There were only two—no reading and no crying.

I remember one large tear escaped and rolled down my face. It was first of two times that I cried in Grandpa’s truck.*

Weirdly enough, I feel like I did in Grandpa’s truck.

No, I am not in pain. No, I did not just burn myself on a cigarette lighter.

My mind is currently caught between the past and the reality of what is in front of me. Before I successfully lit and burned myself on the cigarette lighter, it was a mystery. I was still trying to figure something out. I had something to learn. I wanted to figure it out. After I burned myself, I realized that I had figured out how to make the cigarette lighter work, but that I still had so much more to learn.

As I think about the end of my formal education, my mind is once again caught between the past and the reality of what is in front of me. Before today, I was a full-time student. I’ve been a student the vast majority of my life.  The future where my life was no longer defined by a school calendar was unknown. The “real” world was for other people. Technically, I am still a student, at least for the next few weeks.

However, I have more questions now than I did before my last class. Not only about the subject matter (if you love talking about secure transactions, please give me a call), but about the future. What am I now that I am not a full-time student? Am I smarter than I was before I started law school? Am I going to get burned? Has this experience been more worthwhile than figuring out how a cigarette lighter works?

Does any of this make any sense? Maybe. Maybe not. At this point, I don’t really know.

I just got a text from my father:

Dad: Finished?

Me: Yep

Dad: Congrats…Did you ever follow up about the second receipt?

Me: I was trying to be reflective and you ruined the moment.

My formal education is almost at an end. However, I have a feeling that I’m about to learn more than I ever could have imagined. But first, I have to follow up about that second receipt…

Washington Hall at W&L

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.” ― Dr. Seuss

*The second time I cried in the truck was right after Sirius Black had died in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This also happened after grammar lessons. Grandpa had been talking to our tutor and I had managed to sneak in a few pages. That was a huge mistake! Sirius was my favorite character and I was completely traumatized by his demise. As Grandpa got into the truck, I slammed the cover closed and stared out the window. Once again, a single tear slid down my face. Unsurprisingly, I never broke either rule in Grandpa’s truck again.

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