Exam stress, honour and cool: Prof. Bolt, a shining exemplar

We’ll all be dancing like this in April


Cherry blossoms signal the clarion call of surging hormones and the universe collapsing on its centre as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff hopes wither like your chances of obtaining a paid summer position at a firm with decent hire-back rates. Also, I’m told, some of you will be attempting some tests or something. (B-curve, say “what what?”) Okay, I’m not that aloof. I appreciate the fact that this can be a trying fortnight for all you ne’er-do-poorlies out there. As for the slackers, slack-ass LSLAP-lifers, Emily “Slackster” MacKinnon and the constitutionally slack-jawed, April’s siren song of sun worship and midnight/midday toking croons delightful. You guys are cool and already have it figured out. Stop reading here.

Stress-management and dealing with pressure are likely parts of healthy and busy lives. Lamentably, Gen-Y (and other “me” generations) law students in the main skew towards solipsistic blowhardism and resolutely feel that the Earth will spin off its axis if one underperforms on a formal evaluation. [Ed note: Regrets to the Class of 2014, some of the most balanced and well-adjusted people we’ve met. Ever.] Of course expectations, unless one has East Asian/Jewish/Slavic/Persian and/or practising lawyer parents, are mostly self-imposed. There is no finer example than the Usain Bolt type of excellence that can be achieved with a laidback, rudebwai demeanour. Skankin’ baldheads: read this carefully and be inspired. And no, I will not hear any objections that Bolt is not actually Rastafarian. In fact, I and I may pepper the rest of this column with colourful, ital slang because it is an antidote to taking tings too seriously, dread.

Overstand this: Usain Bolt currently holds world records in the 100m, 200m, and as a member of the 4 x100m relay team. He has bested his own Olympic and world records at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and in subsequent meets. His most memorable performance came in the 100m final at the Olympics when he achieved a time of 9.69s. He lowered his time significantly at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. This is old hat.

Neither are the circumstances of his setting the record despite a “slow” reaction time, the drag his loose-fitting jersey MUST have created, the absence of a tailwind, his left shoelace being untied, his deceleration as he turned around to observe his lead over the other sprinters, and upon noticing this lead, opening his arms and pumping his chest with self-satisfaction and then actually slowing down to cross the finish line, having clearly already won the race, made news.

Perhaps less well-known are the facts that both of Bolt’s two pre-race meals that day consisted of chicken nuggets (he didn’t trust the food in the athletes’ village and is apparently of sound judgment, too) and that he felt prepared and rested going into the race. He didn’t know what the result would be but was jammin’ because he worked hard in training and would try his best and that no matter what happened in the race, his life would carry on.

Bolt’s unaffected exuberance is also well-attested. The fact that he takes such relish in his and his teammates’ success has been criticized by people like International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge as excessive and disrespectful. That Rogge does not have a spacious conception of emotions like happiness and excitement is perhaps a topic for a future column. I will say nothing more except that some money has been made for the IOC and its sponsors precisely because Bolt has an awesome personality.

Exam performance is differentiated from sporting achievement, among other ways, by the probable outcome of pumping the chest before finishing writing/typing responses. In a word, such gesticulation, however reflexive, is unlikely to attract many supporters or endorsement deals. Celebrating beatin’ dem bad, however modestly, may be appropriate but The Legal Eye will invite you to consider a private venue and company that excludes law students who aren’t siblings or sexual partners. Even there, tread lightly. And if Babylon chants you down instead, well, Jah works in mysterious ways and nothing is determinative of any other ting. The unofficial Olympic motto is apropos: “The most important thing is not to win but to take part!” (To be entirely frank, I’m uncertain whether this motto actually applies to legal life – or the Olympics for that matter – but it is undeniably a gentle, humble prism through which to view the world. It may be a lie but it’s not the big lie.)

A desire to gain any edge over peers is part of an alpha dog mentality and correlates closely with securing material benefits in Babylon/The Fountainhead. This spirit has served the legal community well as we crush small people beneath our collective heel (or further the ends of justice depending on one’s bent). Sorry, bad bwais and champions, but there is a line, sometimes bright, sometimes faint, between fair and foul. Caffeine, procuring excellent CANs, doing practice exams: fair; aksin’ obfuscating, clearly personal questions during exam reviews, aggressive seasonal Adderall dosing: foul. Though I have it on good authority that the university won’t be checking for cloudy piss this academic year, unprescribed study drugs are the elephant in the room. Seen Bolt’s physique? Those are results of excellent genetics, rigorous training and awful nutrition. Also, any Student Health Service counsellor worth their salt will happily write a script for 30 x 4 refills for 20mg, extended-release. [Ed note: Book an appointment this week and say the magic words “unfocused”, “stressed” or “fear of failure”. These magic words worked 100% of the time according to six different Tax II students who independently volunteered this info at the last coffee & doughnuts.] Taking paltry advantage is incompatible with integrity and civility. Sharp practice marks I and I as a craven blood clot and leaves a stench so strong, it can only be washed away with many unbilled hours of pro bono work. Reputations take time and effort to build and sustain and whatever primordial reps we’ve thus far cultivated, dey may be shattered by dishonourable deeds.

Also, I am told the Innocence Project will no longer be able to assist “wrongfully” condemned academic transgressors. Pam Cyr, however, can still be contacted at 604-822-6350. Faster, Higher, Stronger, natty dreads. Good luck and have a righteous summer!

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