Warning: This post is more philosophical than most. It may even force you to ponder a bit.
Last week my grandmother died. She was 88 and had been very sick for months. She was an amazing mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, and person. When I got married, she gave me a piece of advice: “never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.” When I was a little girl, I complimented her earrings. Without a word, she smiled, removed them and gave them to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to say goodbye as I live thousands of miles away. I was planning a visit for next month to coincide with my cousin’s wedding. The last time we were together, 5 years ago, my grandma joined me for a Zumba class. My bubby will be missed by everyone who knew her and her death has provided a reminder for us all about the importance of life.
China's One-Child Policy
Life is an interesting concept. We all have it and most of us take it for granted most of the time. We tend not to appreciate the gift of life until it’s far too late. Different cultures view lives differently. For example, consider China’s one-child policy which endured for more than 35 years, and was replaced only in 2016 by a two-child policy. Since its “inception” in 1979, violators of the one-child policy were fined and the practice of forced abortions and infanticide swept through the vast eastern region. An important part of the policy was to sterilize women after their first birth or surgically insert birth control devices. While there were some exceptions to the rule, it is estimated that 400 million lives were prevented. Apparently the rationale behind the policy was to prevent economic, environmental, and social problems in Red China.
A Peak Inside Israel and the United States
In stark contrast, the Israeli government provides a child allowance to encourage families to procreate. All Israeli families (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Bedouin alike) receive a nominal stipend (a bit more than $100) each month into their bank accounts for each child under the age of 18 in the family. In the United States, there is a movement whereby companies will pay for female employees to freeze their eggs in the hopes that they will remain in the workforce and put off having children. Unfortunately, for many of these women, their biological clocks will not be ticking quite so well after a delay of a decade or so.
Aside from cultural push to populate, or not, there are also quality of life debates heating up around the globe. For instance, the controversial discussion revolving around whether or not a woman should abort her fetus after receiving a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, as illustrated in this mother’s blog, highlights one such issue. Another hot topic in America and Europe is the right to “die with dignity” using medical intervention to end one’s life.
What is the value of your life? Is your happiness conditioned upon having “things” like a good job, loving spouse, exciting social circle, or some other extraneous element? If you lived on a deserted island, would you be able to feel as productive and satisfied with yourself as you do after a busy week? Would you question whether or not your life is worth living?
No, really. Going away is so important because it allows us to return stronger and better. When I was studying for the BAR exam, I did not study everyday like many of my colleagues. I studied six days out of each week and took off one day. As the BAR preparation course I took was only about six weeks long, my schedule worried some of my close friends and family members. They thought I would be missing out on information and that my peers would have a significant advantage over me come testing day. But, I disagreed. My day off allowed me to digest the previous week’s worth of information, relax a tad, and rejuvenate myself for another grueling six days of arduous study.
I passed on the first try.
Now that I’m in the working world, it’s harder to get away. This is especially true since I run my own company. I need to be responsive and stay on top of things. I manage multiple projects simultaneously. When there’s a problem, I’m Mrs. Fix It. This is a good role for me as I’ve become quite the juggler over the years. However, I am still a firm believer in going away.
Next week, I will be going away. I’m not physically leaving my domicile, but I will be taking a week off work to spend time with my family and enjoy my kids during their days off school. I will not be checking my emails and I’m so looking forward to it. And any time I feel a pang of guilt or my mind starts to wander to ongoing projects, I will simply remind myself of my BAR prep days. I’ll remember that the best way to grow in productivity, efficiency, and responsibility in the future is to go away.
Lawyer and legal writer, Julie worked primarily in real estate law before focusing her career on the social media and marketing aspects of the legal industry.