Lately, I've been exhausted. I've been a step (or 2) slower, taking more breaks and sleeping earlier (gasp!) which is unheard of for me. I think the 7 days of work, 365 days a year could be the source of my sheer exhaustion. But then again, I've been used to it for years, why all of a sudden would it bother me now? Hmmm, so maybe its the culmination of all those years. But when your parents work 7 days and don't take any breaks, you NEED to do the same thing. Maybe even do more work, as you "watch" over them and correct their mistakes.
However, as I think about what I do and why I do it. I'm always reminded by a conversation I had recently. Its a conversation that always gives me hope and joy. And you wouldn't guess who it came from. So let me explain - last month I had traveled to Washington, DC for a Dream Act Graduation Ceremony. At the end of the trip, I stopped by the Supreme Court building, which was a pleasant surprise considering ALL that we had to do. So I had taken some pictures of the building and of my favorite justice - Thurgood Marshall. As I left, a nice Indian couple (in their 50's) who saw me take pictures in my black graduation gown (which I hope to trade in for the real black robe, one day), asked me a couple of questions. We were right in front of the elevator, when they asked, "What are you studying? What do you want to be?"
I replied, "I want to study law, and I hope to be here, one day."
Their response, "I hope you can make it here one day too. It would be nice to see someone like you here."
Me: "Yeah, really? (A brief pause) Maybe I can be the first Asian-American on the bench. And I hope God can make it happen for me, one day."
Them: "Yeah, I hope that it happens for you. You can be that great judge, who does good work. You can do a lot here. Good luck!"
Then we went our separate ways, and I just thought, "Wow, they had all this support and they didn't even know me." For them to have the belief that I could do it, was just amazing. And I knew if I could ever do it, I would like to personally thank them. That was one of those random conversations you never forget. So supportive, and so hopeful. And honestly, it was a breath of fresh air to what I had been hearing - Jong-Min, you're too old, you're not educated enough, the schools you want to go to are highly competitive, you don't have enough at stake (loosely translated: you don't have a book deal or something like that, which makes you stand out.) With thoughts like that, why would I ever think I could be something great? And it just made me furious to even hear those thoughts from a "friend". But, I knew how hard I worked for my parents, and the sacrifices and commitment I've made to running their family business and their 2 private apartments. Not to mention, "watching" over them and making sure they were "Ok". And when it came to studying, I've worked to get back into that as well. Its been tough, after 6 years of not studying, but its something I had to do. That's why I worked so hard - not to prove those people wrong - but to have that same work ethic, which I NEEDED, if I ever wanted to be on the High Bench.
And my last response to the couple was "Thank you. I hope to do great work here too."