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Excerpted from I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith. Copyright © 1995 by Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith. Excerpted by permission of Dell Trade Paper, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"The reason we love to watch films about people whose lives are in danger is because every move is loaded with meaning."

Barbara Sher, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Part 3

Well, I have a surprise for you.

You do know what you want.

Everybody does. That's why you feel so restless when you can't find the right track. You sense there's some particular work you are meant to be doing. And you're right. Einstein needed to formulate theories of physics, Harriet Tubman needed to guide people to freedom, and you need to follow your original vision. As Vartan Gregorian said, "The universe is not going to see someone like you again in the entire history of creation." Each of us is one of a kind. Every living person has a completely original way of looking at the world, and originality always needs to express itself.

But many of us get stopped. Every time we resolve to change our lives, every time we go to pick up the baton and get into the race, something happens. For some mysterious reason our determination melts. We look at the baton and think "This race isn't it." And we put down the baton, uneasy because time is slipping away, frightened that we'll never find "it."

There are two reasons for this.

One reason it's so hard to know what we want is that we have so many options. This wasn't always true. Our parents and their parents had fewer choices and clearer goals. It's a tribute to the success of our culture that so many of us have the freedom to search for our own life's work.

Freedom is glorious. But freedom also torments us because it requires us to create our own goals.

Did you know that fewer people get depressed during war than in peacetime? In a war, everything is important. Day to day, you know exactly what to do. Your life may be frightening, but the struggle to survive gives you direction and drive. You don't waste any time trying to figure out what you're worth or what you're supposed to do with your life. You just try to keep alive, save your home, help your neighbors. The reason we love to watch films about people whose lives are in danger is because every move is loaded with meaning.

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