"I'm a lover not a fighter," said the 18-year-old me. The 18-year-old me didn't care about high school grades or applying to college. Rather, the 18-year-old me cared about finding love. But, the 18-year-old me knew nothing about love, or to use the vernacular, the 18-year-old me knew nothing about nothing. Although I haven't found love, I learned to practice love.
I'm no longer 18, but in my late twenties. Neither am I a high school student, but a rising third-year law student. The other night I attended a "graduate night" designed to introduce both graduate and professional students to each other. Disappointed with the outcome, my female friend said to me, "I was hoping to meet a potential significant other. I suppose you were too?" I hesitated. But after deliberating for five seconds, I responded: claro que si.
I hesitated because I associated a significant other with love, i.e., when you find a significant other you also find love. But that is not logic, but tradition. Nonetheless, herein lies the problem... I have already found love.
You may be thinking, "Well gee, Juan, how can you find love and not a human being?"
You see... I have fallen deeply in love, not with a human being, but with the law. Not with walking the dog or gazing at the stars or watching the sunset, but seeking equal justice, organizing for civil rights and advocating for genuine representation of the low-income and undocumented immigrant community. "I have not found love and contentment in the smallest or simplest things," but the largest and most complex and convoluted things, e.g. "crimigration" jurisprudence.
But enough about the law, and more about amor.
The truth is "I have not fallen in love, but learned to practice love. Because real love isn't something passive that you fall into; rather, love is something that is active. Love is a practice; it's something that you do every day, not something that you sit around and wait to show up on your doorstep in the form of a human being."
Therefore, practicing law with direction and vigor requires the realist kind of love, i.e., reasons other than one's own self aggrandizement or benefit. With that in mind, I work as a clerk and Spanish interpreter for my law school's immigration clinic. My work ranges from straightforward naturalization petitions to complex asylum petitions requiring cross-examinations with expert witnesses in foreign countries. I vividly recall interpreting a cross-examination that involved a young woman that fled Central Latin America to avoid her abusive husband. Long story short, this woman was in removal proceedings and feared for her life if she returned to her native country. By doing everything in my power to ensure we submitted the strongest petition possible for this woman, I practiced love.
Although I'm currently a law student, I intend to practice love when I stand before a judge; when I write and submit a trial or appellate brief; when I file petitions with the United States Citizenship Immigration Services; when I practice Houstonian Jurisprudence and impact litigation; and when I help the 50 percent of Americans with legal problems who cannot afford an attorney. Perhaps lack of love is why law school or being a lawyer is not for everyone (which is okay, because the world needs love in other areas too). However, suffice it to say that I have found something worth living for.
So there you have it. To experience love, you must practice love. And until then, I would argue, "you cannot truly experience the realest kind of romantic love with the person who will one day step into your life."
I pass on this whole enchilada to the woman who will one day become my partner in defense (not crime!) and advocacy for one reason: I have already found love. Now all I'm waiting on -- patiently, deliberately, and with faith -- is you. I cannot wait -- as in, I am like Tom Cruise discovering how to defend his clients in A Few Good Men excited -- to meet you.
Therefore, to my future partner, will you seek justice with courage and devotion with me?
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