I started to click myself (that sounds a bit odd) and found the following:
- My name in a couple of old reviews from plays I did a million years ago.
- My name (and photo - and even voice!) listed with "original Los Angeles Cast" of an Off-Broadway production of "Dog Music" (from a million years ago).
- My name listed multiple times in association with 2 episodes of "Wings" I did a million years ago.
- My name associated with media kits from magazines I represented a million years ago.
- My name associated with organizations I have belonged to or charities I have contributed to.
- My name in Linkedin.
- My name in Facebook.
- My name appearing as a result of photo tags in Facebook.
- My name in a PR release promoting me as a "guest speaker" at my church.
- My name associated with random selections from this blog.
Let me tell you what is really fascinating about this - at first glance it all looks very impressive. But scratch the surface and it says absolutely nothing.
Now my life has not been about nothing. But as I reflect (ad nauseum) these past few months, there is a lack of clarity as to whether or not my life has been about something.
In the "My-Life-Has-Not-Been-About-Nothing" column there is, wife and mother of 4, breadwinner, Sunday School teacher (for a while), actress (dabbler), charitable contributor, friend, sister, and daughter. And all those things are good things - I'm not knocking any of it. I'm happy with all of it and even proud of of it. But early on in this blog I wrote that I am not altogether certain right now of who I am. Those words sound highly self-involved and laughable - like a line from the script of "Hair". And its a little late in the game to be returning to the flower child era. That being said, as there is a tombstone in my future somewhere, I'd like it to say something more than: "Here lies Valri Jackson Smith, beloved wife and mother. Oh. And she sold advertising."
What I'm thinking this morning is that it really comes down to is who have I served? As I write these missives here, reading them over, hearing the sturm and drang buzzing in my head it occurs to me right now that all this fear that I keep talking about, this lack of purpose, this confusion about direction would disappear if I could figure out "serving someone".
Let me tell you - its not the "serving" part I don't get. I am excellent at being served. If you've read any of my posts, you'll note that I've chosen a rather effortless, "peel me a grape" sort of path. One that has been satisfying for me and my family. But to reiterate what I have said previously, I feel I just sort of sat at the table while life served me up a virtual banquet and I have grabbed the attractive, low-hanging fruit, along with my share of the fattening stuff. (Not that it has been a breeze - it has not. I have worked hard. Sometimes.) I don't feel one bit guilty about any of it either. But if you've read my previous posts, you'll also know that in the absence of this buffet, I am at a loss for, well, not just the party but for anything to eat - to continue the metaphor. I have a growing sense of urgency I had better go learn how to plant some fruit trees. And that I'm going to have to get accustomed to doing the serving.
If you haven't picked it up by now, I need to say here that I am a Christian. And I talk to God. Rather a lot. Interestingly, He talks back. (No, not audibly.) He has been talking to me for a very long time and I have written down a lot of what He says. Its kind of a phenomenon. And no, I'm not a lunatic, or even a fanatic. No one other than my daughters (and maybe occasionally my husband) would pin me as crazy. I think if we listen, God speaks to everyone in some form or another. Its just in my case, He seems to have a lot to say - as it pertains to my life. (I am not getting any messages for the world at large.) I have often taken it for granted by selectively listening.
I believe that all He is asking me to do at the moment (ALL?!?!!) is to put my faith in Him and jump in the deep end. Even if I don't think I can swim. Especially since I don't think I can. I think He is saying there is more than "more of the same" out there for me. And it is in this new arena that I will find the purpose and direction and freedom from fear that months of inactivity has forced me to face. In this place I will find the kind of work that is fulfilling and I will begin to experience "something."
Can I tell you that I am nearly hysterical at the thought of it. I am so not kidding. I am so afraid of drowning in that pool. Particularly right now - in this economy, at this time in my life.
Regardless of an individual's faith, or lack of one, millions of us are in this boat right now. And there will be more. And as much as I (and others) may hate it, and I mean really hate it, we have to start asking ourselves, even in this time of uncertainty, hardship, and seemingly lost security, if maybe at this stage in our lives we're not being offered an amazing, maybe once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move on. And then we have to ask ourselves if we have the guts to grab it.