“It’s a big world out there, honey. And it can get really overwhelming, trying to survive in it. But if you never lose sight of who you are and live your life to the fullest, you’ll be happy.”
Her mother’s words echoed in her head as she made another futile attempt to concentrate on the case file she was perusing. The case was due in Court tomorrow; she couldn’t afford to languish in her misery all day. But her mother’s words kept playing on repeat in her head. Resignedly, she closed the file, got up from her desk, and walked over to the floor-to-ceiling glass window of her plush office cabin.
Standing there, overlooking the busy downtown street of a city that rarely seemed to slow down, Katherine allowed herself to be consumed by the memories of her mother’s last days before she succumbed to her illness. Katherine was glad that at least her passing was painless. But, then again, her mother was the strongest person she knew. She probably did not want to bother her already distraught daughter. Instead, she asked Katherine to read to her like she used to when Katherine was little. It had brought back so many happy memories for both of them. Which is why Katherine wasn’t surprised when the day before she died, her mother had repeated her advice.
These words had driven Katherine all through her years growing up. She studied hard, earned a scholarship to a prestigious law school, and graduated top of her class. She didn’t even think twice when the biggest law firm in the city wanted to hire her. Now, here she was, a senior partner with a downtown office, her own apartment, and a name well-known in the legal circle. And yet, her mother’s words bothered her now. Katherine had always heard her mother tell everyone how proud she was of her daughter’s success at such a young age. Then why was she, Katherine, so unhappy now?
It was only when she returned home from the funeral that Katherine had started feeling lost, like a ship sailing the calm waters without any fixed destination. Her mother’s passing had led her to question her life’s direction. Where was she going? The same old work routine, battling ethics and morality on a daily basis as she defended perpetrators merely because they had the power and money to avail her firm’s services, and becoming a slave to the cutthroat corporate world. All this so she could return home only to sleep in an empty apartment, where the loneliness gnawed at her and contentment eluded her. Where was the happiness, the small joys of life that she experienced when she was still young? What happened to the girl who dreamt of making a difference to the world? The girl who aspired to become an environmental lawyer, who didn’t care about a big office or a fat paycheck and just wanted to save the world?
When she woke up this morning, her world had turned upside down. Morning yoga did not calm her, the rare Brazilian coffee did not energize her, driving her newly purchased convertible to work did not make her happy. And when she stood outside the glass behemoth that was her office building, the usual pride that filled her when she looked at all that she had achieved was gone.
A knock on the door shook Katherine out of her stupor. Hannah, her assistant, entered and was surprised to see that her boss was not at her desk, working on the all-important case. She began rattling on about calls, appointments, and meetings but Katherine’s focus was elsewhere. Somewhere in her mind, the fog was lifting, as she began accepting the real reason for her dissatisfaction with her life. And suddenly, a decision was made. Katherine walked over to her desk, opened her bag and threw her phone and keys in it. She picked up her bag and coat and told a confused Hannah to cancel all her meetings because she was taking a personal day.
She stopped in the busy street, straining her eyes in the afternoon sun to look at the tall office building she had just left, half expecting herself to regret the decision. But there was no going back now; she was her mother’s daughter. There were so many questions in her head about what she was going to do with her life. I know what I am going to do right now, she said to herself, as she spotted a hotdog vendor at the corner of the street. She was going to get herself a hot dog first. And then, she was heading home. She had a resignation to write.