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William Wray is a 3L at Roger Williams Law. He attended Georgetown University and Brown University for undergraduate, graduating in 2010 with a degree in Middle East Studies. Throughout high school and college he was involved in Mock Trial, which kindled his interest in litigation. At Brown he...

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On Waterskiing

Posted by William Wray on 11/09/2011 at 05:36 PM

It is customary, after an absence of a month or more from one’s blog, to profusely apologize because “I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to update.”


Nobody is so busy that they literally do not have the time to type 800 coherent words. Given the average words per minute of twenty-something typists, 800 words = 15 minutes.

What dilatory bloggers are really saying – or at least what I  am saying - is that for over a month I have found it uncomfortable to sit behind a keyboard and produce thoughtful content. Prepare yourself for yet another tortured allegory.

I have been waterskiing, not swimming. When you waterski, the sheer pace of whatever is dragging you along keeps you on the surface, reacting to the wake and the waves. The waterski-er does not decide; he accommodates.

When you swim, you might not have that same sense of constant motion and exhilarating flight, but every deliberate stroke takes you in the direction you choose. And with each meter, your entire body – not just the muscles that keep you standing – strengthens. You attain depth such that surface waves cannot disturb your progress.

September populated my personal depths with beasties. So I have gladly allowed these to drag me along on the surface: 1) work at RIBC, 2) wife, 3) baby, 4) Negotiation team, 5) Moot court competition, 6) law review, 7) Federalist Society, 8) teaching assistant job, 9) interview season, 10) classes, 11) fitness, 12) a cappella group.

I have kept up with most of these well enough. e.g., I pride myself on recently winning a drawn-out debate with my infant daughter regarding the proper way to eat gumdrops: don’t lick the gumdrop, bite it once, spit it out on the floor and get a new one. Instead, actually eat it. (Unimpressed? Try winning an argument with a creature that can only respond with one word - “bubble” - and a variety of high-pitched shrieks.)

But what’s the point of doing lots of things passably well? Nobody is hiring for jack of all trades. Few care whether Shakespeare could also play guitar and run a marathon. Success, recognition, and most importantly, happiness, all stem from profundity, not breadth. My barber has a quotation stuck on his mirror. It says that "[t]he secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” -Pearl Buck. (Though that barber is one of the unhappiest people I know. How are my haircuts?)

I know, yet another post steeped deep in vague abstractions; devoid of any interesting stories. Those are forthcoming. Even Star Wars had that tiresome scrolly text in the beginning. You need to read that, though, to get what’s coming next.