Today was an inspiring, thought-provoking, and exhausting day. I traveled from Stanford to UC Berkeley to attend a festschrift honoring a prominent, if modest and humble, legal scholar. Festschrifts are usually reserved for scholars who are retiring, or are held after a scholar has passed away. But the organizers of this event felt that this scholar had accomplished a lifetime of work, and will continue to do so, and that her work should be praised now. And I couldn’t agree more.
Today was a day where I realized again that my work matters, that other people find it interesting, and that the thoughts I have are not just mine but are shared by social justice seeking people who also happen to be law professors. I saw people who remembered me, people who said they knew my name, people who appreciated a comment I made. I made some better connections. I “networked.”
I also saw a very familiar face, the familiarity of which made me want to cry.
But I saved my tears for the drive back home.
Today was exhausting. As much as it really doesn’t seem like it to people who know me, I am an introvert. I can “do” social situations very well – I’m not shy and I can talk if I have something to say – but my energy is depleted by the end of a day like today where I felt like I had to be “on” and I really just wanted to be “off.” Don’t get me wrong – today was wonderful, just at the end, as I write this now, I want to melt into a puddle in my bed and not talk to anyone for the next 24 hours.
But I learned something today, something that was kinda weird for me to learn at a conference about scholarship. Maybe that’s because this was not just about scholarship, but about a person. I realize that while I admire that person for her scholarship, I also learned a lot about her personhood, and it’s her personhood that I was so impressed and inspired by. How she mentored reminded me that I need to be a better mentor. How she brought mindfulness into her classroom reminded me that I need to be more mindful and start my meditation practice again. How she was so humble that she didn’t even want people to know about this, how she spoke for only 5 minutes during a 12 hour day, and that was only to say “thank you” so she wouldn’t be rude and to read the names of those who came before her who are now passed on. Five minutes.
Inspiring, thought provoking, exhausting.