Well, here's a new one:
I was the envy of my 30-something friends in Palo Alto, Calif. I had my own law office right on California Avenue. People charged with crimes handed me cash, in advance, over a big oak desk. Occasionally, I’d make a couple of grand in an afternoon.And, ultimately, found his bliss in the right profession:
But soon, my body started giving out one part at a time. First a shoulder, then my lower back, knee cartilage, neck vertebrae. Two groin hernia surgeries later, at 33 years old, I could not lift a bag of groceries, or sit without an orthopedic pillow. After 10 years as a law student and lawyer, working in a profession I didn’t like was taking its toll.
I sold my practice and fled to San Miguel de Allende in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.
Studying want ads one evening, the one that got my blood moving promised to train me as a party clown, and send me out at $25 per show. Years earlier, I’d dreamed of becoming so weightless that I bounced off the ceiling. I could see myself in a billowy clown suit. After a free training session, I purchased the starter kit for $59 and waited for them to call.Right, you're all expecting me to have a little fun with this guy, right? A sarcastic jibe, perhaps, a little sly humor?
Within a week, the company dispatched me to a party for a 7-year-old at a Ground Round restaurant in Yonkers. I applied colorful makeup, donned oversize shoes, orange wig, bag of tricks. It took a minute to decide on “Bobo” as my name. I silly-walked up to a table of children in the party room. By the end of the performance, the birthday boy said to me, “Bobo, I love you.” In the car later, I rested my head on the steering wheel. An unexpected feeling surfaced: happiness.
Well done, Robert Markowitz. Really, I mean it. There are far too many miserable lawyers out there. Many are trapped in jobs that aren't right for them, but could be happier in a better fitting position (I myself was miserable as a big firm attorney but have loved my public interest work--and even then, other things have called to me to supplement that career--the diaconate, writing, to name the two most important), but a lot shouldn't be lawyers at all.
Seriously, I mean that. If you don't love legal practice, it'll kill ya. It requires a lot of steady hard slog, wading through materials that are very dry, and gratification is delayed for years. If you aren't a natural born lawyer, if the stuff hasn't got a hold of your heart for whatever reason (la Caterina is one, too, but somewhat differently than me)--get out and save yourself, like Robert Markowitz did. Because life's too short.
In his excellent novel The Rebel Angels, Robertson Davies quotes Paracelsus: "Be not another if thou canst be thyself."
Good advice, very good advice.
So bravo to Robert Markowitz, and best wishes for another 20 years of success to Bobo the Clown.
As long as nobody expects me to don the red nose, that is.