Monday, September 22, 2008

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Today is the first day of fall and also my birthday. I’ve always been in love with fall, but it’s obviously even more special to me when it lands exactly on my birthday. I was told once that if your birthday falls on a solstice or a season change, it means that you are blessed with more energies, more responsibilities, and a greater purpose. With all due respect to the 95% of people whose birthdays do not fit that category, I’d still like to believe it’s true.
Six years ago today, on my 25th birthday, I was in a private room of a local Plattsburgh restaurant surrounded by 15 of my closest friends and family members. I had told them that I had a big announcement that I wanted to them all to hear. It was then that I announced that I had thought of a business that I was going to carry out with my friend Natasha.
We were starting a writing retreat business and the first one had not only been planned, but it was two weeks away. After the initial retreat, the business branched out (as all creative ventures do) into other things – classes for cancer survivors, specialized classes that we were commissioned for, individual sessions, etc.
I had the idea while standing inside my cousin’s gift shop. It was something we had talked about before (“one day…”), but the idea had never gelled until that moment. I realized two things: it was the exact combination of everything I was talented at and passionate about, and there would never be a perfect time to do it, so we might as well just move forward.
My one concern was that people would think we were too young to be of genuine help. But once that clearly wasn’t a problem at the first retreat, it became obvious that it would never be a problem. And to this day, it still amazes me that so many people twice as old as we were gave us a chance to lead and to help before rushing to any judgments. The second thing that still amazes me is the degree to which we really did help people. Rape victims, cancer survivors, and everyday people – all just going through the same struggles that so many of us do, and all reaching out for a little guidance. The feedback we received never ceased to amaze me.
For years I used to pine away, thinking to myself “What is it that I’m meant to do??? What is it that I’m truly passionate about?” I was so jealous of people who genuinely knew that because I thought “How easy – you’ve already figured out the hard part, and now all you have to do is implement it.” But in the six years since I did figure it all out, I realized that the second part of a plan can be just as hard as the first.
The only way I can describe it is that I felt like I was on drugs. Every time we had a class or a private session, or a retreat, I felt so high with happiness. I spent most of that year and a half of the business feeling so in touch with the world all the time – feeling so clear about what I thought and what I wanted and how I could really help people. There is no way to describe that feeling to anyone else, but it astounds me that you can feel that way about your job.
Similarly, I’ve felt just as cloudy and lost ever since I stopped. But Natasha went on to a PhD program and I met B and realized that if you’re going to build a life with someone, at least one of you needs a normal job to pay for food. Of course, I didn’t realize it was going to take so long for us to build a settled life together, but I just trust that it will all play out the way it’s supposed to.
Last week when we received the disappointing job news, I was talking to B about perspective. I told him that not a day goes by where I don’t think about the business and want to start it up again, but every hour of every day, I just remind myself what an unbelievable gift our life together is and to trust that it really will be the right time again. Reminding yourself of what you have is the only way I know to get over those hurdles.
And to tell you the truth, I have no idea what form the business would take now, but I miss being creative and I REALLY miss helping to make someone’s life better. Once I saw that and felt what that was like, I couldn’t imagine doing anything different.
As we move forward with our plan to relocate to Nashville, our life has once again become about change and transition. In fact, that’s all it’s ever been since we met each other in 2003 and I often wonder if it will ever be any different. I’ve never been a big believer in having a New Year’s Resolution, but I have always felt that your birthday can symbolize a new beginning.
So here’s my birthday resolution to you – as we move forward with these next twelve months, and we get through the hustle of the holidays, the births of a few new babies, the new life we’re trying to start in another state, my vow that I write with tear-filled eyes is that I will do one thing – just one thing – to begin the process of getting to back to what it is I’m meant to do in this world.


billy said...

Happy Birthday Sarah! Great post, but you're wrong, you are doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Martini Love said...

It will happen. If I could wave a magic wand over you and Brian I would take away all the pressure you both put on yourselves. Just ask the universe for what you want and you'll get it.

die Frau said...

Whatever you do, I know it will be heartfelt and passionate and right for you.

"Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid."

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