We’re Sarah Avenir and Adam Avenir, and we hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far (and we hope interrupting you as you go isn’t too jarring; if it is, you can always read straight through and come back when you’re ready to do some reflection).
We each have our own stories of pursuing our gifts and dealing with burnout, and we’ll be sharing some of them throughout the experience. But what we really want is to make space for you to reflect on your own.
We all have moments that make us question who we are and what direction we want to go with our lives. Some of those moments are big, and the way we answer those questions will have a major impact on what the future looks like. But even the smaller moments define our days, our weeks, and ultimately our entire lives.
“Who am I?” is a daunting question, and sometimes it feels impossible to answer. In fact, we can never fully answer it—we contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman reminds us, and we’re always growing and changing. Perhaps the best way to understand ourselves, then, is to go about it less directly, answering instead “Who am I not?”
“Everything in the universe has a nature, which means limits as well as potentials, a truth well known by people who work daily with the things of the world.
Making pottery, for example, involves more than telling the clay what to become. The clay presses back on the potter’s hands, telling her what it can and cannot do—and if she fails to listen, the outcome will be both frail and ungainly.
Engineering involves more than telling materials what they must do. If the engineer does not honor the nature of the steel or the wood or the stone, his failure will go well beyond aesthetics: the bridge or the building will collapse and put human life in peril.”
—Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
When something we’re doing isn’t working, it’s easy to blame ourselves. Maybe we could work harder or longer and just be more self-disciplined. Maybe we could just change our mindset and think positively.
But sometimes, when our life presses back on us, it’s a clue that we’re trying to do something in a way that works against our nature.