Ming, our family dog, had passed away today. She was 80 dog-years-old. She was the love and joy of our family, and the love of my life. Ming was a reflection of the unconditional love that resides in me. Just the thought of this brings tears to my eyes.
Mourning the passing of Ming, I pondered on the meaning of life. This question had been seared deep in my mind from the moment I began my working life, when I knew with absolute clarity that my career must serve a higher cause. Without which, I would find no meaning in life. I had in the past succeeded, to a certain extent, of incorporating a higher cause to my work by rendering legal aid. I was lucky to have had superiors who encouraged me to pursue an alternative yet concurrent path to my career by incorporating practice with legal aid. I was lucky that my superior did not make every working hour a billable hour. If truth be told, it was my legal aid work which kept me going and kept me grounded. It gave me strength, faith and hope to continue staying in practice.
Now I am a student. I am a foreigner in Sydney, and I am trying to become a lawyer again. But I am no longer certain if I could combine legal aid and practice. In Sydney, one is either a barrister or a solicitor. It is a separate profession, not a fused profession. In order to succeed as a barrister, one must network and build his/her relationships with the community of solicitors. I spoke to a criminal solicitor about her thoughts about becoming a barrister, and she said it is best to practice for a couple of years as a solicitor before turning into barrister because building up one’s networking is important.
I like the thought of being a barrister. I somehow feel that I have something to contribute to the society by being a barrister. But with Ming’s passing, my question to myself is, is being a barrister what I really want in life? Will being a barrister give me any meaning in life? I confess that a part of me used to associate competence in the law with the meaning of life. I loved getting to know the law. I love analyzing the law inside-out and upside down. I wanted so desperately to be good with the law.
But loving the law is not the same as loving the profession. I take a lot of pride in the legal profession, but I am equally realistic to the flaws. Well dressed, confident, well spoken – hallmarks of a lawyer. Arrogant, ostentatious – pitfalls of a lawyer. I find it very hard to accept the conduct of thinking oneself as better, over and beyond the average society (a conduct rather apparent amoung the legal fraternity in Sydney). And as much I like fashion, I find it hard to reconcile spending copious amounts of money on designer suits when the same amount of money could be spent on saving the poor.
Thinking of Ming, thinking about the meaning of life, I realised that the quest of being good with the law gives me a lot of joy. But the meaning of life is not merely to be good with the law. For me, at this point of time, the meaning of life includes the loving of life. To flow freely with the currents of life. To be at peace with myself, regardless of the situation. I know that this is a tall order. I had no problem being at peace with myself when meditating in Sri Lanka, but all peace flies out of the window when I am in a stressful situation!
Rest in peace, Ming. I love you. You came to us to fulfill a higher purpose, and in the process you had showered us with so much love and affection. I cannot bear the thought of you crying at the vet’s yesterday. You must have known that your time has come. And I cannot bear the thought of how you must have suffered for you had bled copiously and was not able to eat. You must have known that it would tore us apart if you had left before our eyes, so you chose to leave when mom was sending dad off at the airport. I rejoice with the fact that you are now free to continue with the journey of your soul and I wish you all the best!
Bless you, my heart. You are the embodiment of unconditional love.