There is certainly a thrill to throwing a strike – that feeling when it all comes together and the pins explode at the end of the lane. The last few weeks I have been bowling at least four to five times a week. Usually after work, I’ll drag a few buddies to a bowling alley to throw as many games as they are willing. It’s not like I’m hitting strike after strike, at least not yet. I’m improving, but only at a very steady pace. So what is it about the game that has me coming back for more even after a draining day at work?
I find the torture of a gutter ball strangely addictive. It’s stressful when I throw a near perfect ball but one pin just refuses to fall. More so when I critique my own form move-by-move, only to get a little too excited and chuck the ball into the gutter. Oh the embarrassment, especially when I gutter the ball after a spare. Oh the frustration, when I break under the pressure in the final frame. But when I walk out of the alley, I’m grinning harder the worse I played.
Let’s be clear. I am not a masochist. But if there is one thing I learned working at a firm in Seoul this summer, it is the importance of having a hobby.
At the firm, I share a room with a junior associate, I am assigned a more senior mentor, and I get work from anybody and everybody. From my interaction with a variety of different lawyers, I have come to observe that a common denominator among the most successful attorneys in Korea is their composure. Regardless of whom they are speaking to or what kind of time crunch they are working under, good lawyers are always courteous, gentle, and firm.
But come on. Who doesn’t have a bad day? After a number of consecutive nights without enough sleep — and when the caffeine just refuses to kick in — I’ve also felt the urge to flip my table, call it quits, and pass out on the floor. That’s where the hobby comes into the picture.
The bowling alley that I frequent is named after the sad clown, Pierrot, a stock character of old French pantomime who always gets his heart broken by his saucy sweetheart, Columbine. Pierrot is the always the fool of the story. Things just never go his way, and there is nothing he can do about it. Given the inherently challenging nature of our work and our brilliant colleagues who eat pressure for breakfast, many of us are bound to feel just like Pierrot at some point or another. I’ve just come to see that when it feels like Murphy’s Law is engaged in full throttle against us, that feeling is just that — a feeling.
In those troubled times, let’s make a trip to the bowling alley. Go there, throw a tantrum or two, and get that troubled clown out of our systems. If you want to learn how to throw a strike, call a pro. If you want to learn to be a fool at a bowling alley, shoot me an email. I’m not going to lie; I’ve got some serious goofs stored deep within my muscle memory.