I study for this exam.
I study for this exam knowing that it will be arbitrarily graded, that 125 papers is too much for any man to stay awake through (let alone care about), that my professor’s four-year old will be given free reign with a gigantic red crayon, and that a slight hitch in the wrist of the blindfolded chimpanzee throwing my particular dart could mean the difference between an A+ and a C+. But still, I study for this exam.
I study even though there are important football games to be watched, real books to be read, terrible wrongs to be righted, flowers to be smelled, babies to be kissed, animals to be petted. I study knowing that all over the world there are people who wake up each morning thinking “My God, it is great to be alive!” instead of “My God, there are only two days left until the exam and I haven’t done a single practice question yet I am totally fucked and should probably quit right now to save myself the pain and humiliation of being the ballast at the ass-end of the curve and flunking out after only one semester please someone, anyone, HELP ME!” I know this. And I know it is wrong. But still, I study for this exam.
I study for this exam in the hopes that it might impress someone, that the girl from my section in the coffee shop will think "My, isn't he dedicated," so that my professor might, upon reading my exam, declare that I should immediately be given not only an A+, but a JD, an LLM, and a tenured professorship. I study because I believe, on some deep, visceral level, that my studying will yield an exam so perfect, so sublime, so deserving of the highest imaginable praise that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. himself will show up on my doorstep and ask to shake my hand. And I study because I have not yet let go of the delusion that I might be the one who breaks the cycle, who ends up pleased with his grades, who makes it to February still liking law school. Irrational? Yes. Delusional? Certainly. Will that stop me? Not likely.
Because as the hours continue to melt away, each one taking with it another ounce of self respect, another shred of dignity, I am certain of very little. I'm not sure why I came here, I don't know where I'm going, and as of this moment I'm only marginally confident that I can remember my own name. But, when this is all over, let it not be denied that, if nothing else, I did indeed, study for this exam.