A Room with a View

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Remembering What It's All About

I'm just updating the annotated bibliography for my current chapter and noticed that I didn't have a full reference for one particular article. I googled the title and sure enough found what I needed. I also found something that I utterly didn't expect. The first google hit containing the reference was the author's page on his university department's website. Nothing unusual in that, except that along with the usual list of publications, contact details etc., the author wrote a paragraph about his inspiration for his research (which has spanned a long and very successful career). I haven't seen any academics do this before (certainly not in Law), but that wasn't why it affected me. It was the inspiration itself.

The creation of the field of law (and indeed the legal system) that I research came about as a direct response to one of the most tragic periods in 20th Century European (and World) History. Every student who takes just one basic undergraduate class in this field knows that. It's explained on the first few pages of virtually every introductory textbook. Having studied this particular field for 6 years, you'd think that I wouldn't be at all surprised by discussion of its historical roots. Normally I wouldn't be, but this seemingly innocuous website entry really hit me. This academic drew his inspiration from the deeply personal way in which his family was affected by these historical events.

My personal connections to this history are nowhere near as strong or vivid, but this academic did make me remember why I really do what I do. He made me recall the beliefs and ideals that brought me into this field of law. They still hold true to me now, just as much as they did when I first chose this area of specialization. What we do does matter. I often find it hard to see that when I'm struggling for days (or weeks or months...) on end with detailed legal provisions or sections of judgments. It's certainly not often that I have to think about why this field of law came about. But I should. It's both deeply humbling and motivating.

And to think that all of this came from one simple google search to check a reference...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Disappearing Acts...

Yes, I'm a bad, bad blogger. I appeared from nowhere to tell you that I was BACK, but then disappeared back to the deep, murky depths of the Internets, yet again. I really don't deserve to have any readers left, so am deeply grateful to those who have left comments and emailed to check in on me. Thanks guys, you truly are the best.

I'm doing okay, but I'm struggling to get my life back on track. For two and a half years, things seemed to be gradually falling apart more and more. First, with the depression I suffered in 2004 and early 2005. Then, no sooner than I was feeling much better mentally, the mystery physical illness struck, and that has taken over 13 months of tests and doctors to make any progress with.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to be finally making some progress with that, and I really do feel so very happy and fortunate about so many things in my life, but I'm also overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the feeling of getting properly back to work on my research for the first time in two and a half years. Overwhelmed by the fact that the illness has taken its toll on my body and I desperately need to get into shape. Overwhelmed by the fact I haven't been much support to my friends this past year or so, and have drifted out of contact with too many people, despite their best efforts otherwise. Overwhelmed by the amazing fact that I finally feel like I'm living again, not just existing and scrabbling along from week to week.

I'm slowly but steadily trying to get to grips with all of this, and that in itself is a little overwhelming, as I'm trying to negotiate the fine line between being as productive as I can and yet not burning myself out. I'm not used to this feeling. I'm used to being able to work huge long stretches and then still having energy left for other things, but, for now at least, I have to change my ways and accept that my body needs time to get better. I need to be kind to myself. Some things have to slip, and I'm afraid that blogging has for the past few weeks.

It's also going to slip again for another week or so, as I'm going away this evening and won't have any internet access. We're going to the New Forest to just spend time relaxing, reading books and soaking up the beautiful scenery. I'm so looking forward to getting away. Neither my husband or I have really had a proper break in more than a year, and it'll be so lovely be completely away from everything, except the ponies, birds, squirrels and trees, of course.

Hope you are all having wonderful summers...