awe and wonder nightsky galaxies

Awe and Wonder

We lawyers spend a good deal of our time in our heads, thinking–and worrying–about the work on our desks, and the time we don’t have, and the “what-ifs,” and the “if-onlys,” yet when we take a moment to gaze up at a star-studded night sky, the awe and wonder that we experience is not in our heads and our thoughts, but at our core and in our hearts. Even just imagining a starlit sky can evoke a feeling of amazement, sending warm ripples of excitement coursing through us.

I just finished reading the March 2019 feature article in National Geographic–an extraordinary and awe-inspiring piece on our search for life on other planets. According to the article, “new discoveries reveal it’s almost certain we’re not alone in the universe.” The Kepler telescope’s discovery of thousands of exoplanets has shifted the conversation from “if” to “where.” Using highly sophisticated instrumentation, researchers are now expanding the search beyond radio signals to look for “biosignatures” and “technosignatures.”  Reading this piece and examining the extraordinary photos, I’m caught up in the excitement of the scientists observing and studying events thousands of light years from Earth (one light year is six trillion miles) and imagining ways to reach out, travel further, and learn more. 


How is this relevant to a blog on thriving in law?

In my classroom of 2Ls and 3Ls, I see cohorts of students whose perspectives are caught in the rigid constructs of analytical thinking. They engage with their peers, and even family and friends, through the lens of IRAC. Many have forgotten or abandoned the mental freedom to imagine beyond the facts in front of them. I encourage them to remember that laws and regulations do not define the universe that we occupy, but rather the reverse–we have designed rules and laws, we pursue scientific inquiry, and we engage in philosophical discourse, so as to make sense of the mysterious, messy, and miraculous world in which we live,  and not the other way around.

As lawyers, it’s important that we not forget our capacity for awe and wonder, so that we can continue to see the world with and through eyes, minds and hearts that don’t stop at what we know, but extend to what we can imagine.