Last summer I had the idea to start a legacy story-telling business that would help capture people’s life stories through video, audio and print. I bought 3 different domain names because I couldn’t come to a final decision, and the name I really wanted (Legacy Storytellers) was already taken. I worked on my web content, read and researched everything related to personal storytelling, met with experts in the industry, interviewed possible videographers, and began making plans to attend “The Association of Personal Historians” annual conference. I talked incessantly about my budding career plans, announcing to family and friends my goals for the year.
And then I took a little sip of air, often referred to as a breath.
And I exhaled for the next several months, wondering if this is the right time to start such an endeavor and feeling kind of embarrassed that I opened my mouth to so many people about it.
Most unsettling to me was how quickly the passion that bubbled up over the summer fizzled, an opened 2-liter of soda stuck in the fridge for weeks, cap screwed on loosely.
Was I turning into one of those entrepreneurs with a million golden ticket ideas but never any follow-thru? The next eager inventor of everything bun in the end, nothing?
When I really think about it, it seems I have spent much of my life dreaming. Often escaping. Sometimes Utopian-izing, Thinking that my real life will soon begin. My Better Life. This new, posh life will start when….I find the right career, buy a nicer house, land a book deal, set my finances in better order, learn to make perfect risoto……and the list goes on.
I’m not from a small town, but living in the same mid-size city where I was born and raised sometimes makes me feel like I haven’t branched out or grown up. So sometimes, in the back of my mind, I think my new, posh life will begin once I leave my little nest.
Then this one annoying quote finds its way into my consciousness:
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
Simple and obvious, right? Yet something I miss constantly. Whatever I want to escape is usually inescapable because it’s within me. Whenever I feel down, like I want to run away, it’s not the external place— it’s the landscape inside me that needs my attention first. I know this is true, yet when I’m in the midst of it, I don’t see it. Most of us don’t.
I think about our family’s move to our current, downtown location and how much living in a walkable place has improved our quality of life. But honestly, I can find myself in the same, trapped mental state as when I lived in the middle of nowhere when I’m not tending to my internal landscape.
As I’ve sat wrestling with what to be when I grow up, I’ve continued to write content for small businesses and have continued to get new leads, moving forward but without barreling ahead recklessly. I’ve continued to open up our house to after-school kids, and our home is always full.
I started the summer trying to choose a new career, but now sitting in winter, waiting for spring, I’m finding that sometimes careers choose you. Sometimes you just wait and allow the water and sunlight to do their magic.
Sometimes, like a bud, rising up out of snow, you open your eyes to see that you are blooming now. Maybe slower than you would like. Maybe not in the specific areas anticipated, but rising up just the same.
And you find that your new, Better Life is not hinging on an event or a skill or the approval of others. It is happening right now.
“For all of a sudden, when I saw those lights, I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it; it is now. it’s funny how a person can be so busy that they forget this is it. This is my life.” – Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies