This evening I decided to make one of my favorite cakes: The Glazed Lemon Cake from the Silver Palate Cookbook. While eating dinner with my son I told him about the beginnings of The Silver Palate company and how Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso had changed food forever with their little shop on Columbus Avenue and the cookbooks that followed.
But then this led me to the story about the job not taken. The summer after my first year in college I’d worked as a swim instructor at a camp and then headed back to my hometown of NYC. I was reeling from my parents’ divorce and had decided not to return to college in Massachusetts opting instead to live and work in New York. Somehow I got information about a job for a little food shop, The Silver Palate, that was just opening. For a girl who loved to cook and bake this was a dream first job — I put on my dress and clogs and walked over to the shop on the upper west side. I had worked hard to lose my ‘freshman 15’ that summer and had vowed to appreciate, but not indulge in, the food I admired in the shop.
Who are you? Change the intonation a little and ask, again: Who are you? Now, again: Who are you?
Who do we each want to be in our lives? And in the lives of our loved ones, and others? What sort of impact do you want to make in the world? These are big questions, I know. And they might make you squirm a little. Or you might find them so familiar because, like so many of my clients, you may be struggling with that nagging tug of trying to figure out what your work and life is all about, at this new time in our history.
I hear my 20-something clients saying with surprise, “I thought I was on a track, but I found out that I’m not.” Or the 40- or 50 -somethings realizing that, “Everything has changed so much, and I want a new kind of stability, or a new way to use my skills – and I don’t think the experience I have will translate to anything else.” Scary stuff, this identity shift -work. (Or, is it an identity awakening?) But as always, we have ways to break down these scary places into simple things to think about, and to take into action.
As I sat in the darkened, fully populated movie theater last night, watching Julia Roberts be Liz in Eat Pray Love I wondered how many of us in our seats were nursing broken hearts seeking a salve for our soul. I was. I was sitting there looking and hoping for a message that would bring me hope and peace and at the very least, distraction from the ache I’ve felt that comes from a sad and tired heart; the bittersweet experience of choice which breaks hearts.
How many of us, I wondered, are yearning to pick up, pack our bags and flee to find ourselves anew – heart break or not. Speaking with more than one client about this very thing, so many people are wishing for a break. A break from the fear of THE ECONOMY. A break from the fear of TREACHERY and another devastating SCANDAL that robs us all of our sense that we do have people leading; leading us with integrity and our good interest at heart. There’s little of that sentiment going around these days. So to go in to a crowded movie theater and at last, in stead of watching high tech explosives or humanlike animated characters (no matter how adorable they might be) and watch real people on the screen who are making friends out of strangers, and making meaningful connection in new lands (doesn’t the world feel like a new land sometimes but we aren’t quite so willing to make friends of these local strangers) well – it just makes you kind of want to stay in your seat and go in for another round of that movie. Open your heart. Forgive yourself. Travel light and find pleasure. Escape the burdens and fears of our complex and civically confused world. Ahhh. Sounds like peace.