It was dusty. It was old. It had not been touched in at least two years. Fascinated, I held the old book in my hands. Did I dare to open it? It had once been my daily companion, the focus of much energy. I had found my goal journal.
I once had personal goals. Yes, I was a goal setter. And achiever. My goals included career aspirations, visions of myself in glory. I reached and exceeded many goals rather magnificently, as a trapeze artist, an actress (notably in Titanic, Almost Famous, "C.S.I.," among many others you've probably never heard of), a self-help ghost writer and childrens' books author. I traveled to Fiji, India and Europe and found myself in the midst of celebrities, the likes of which barely dare to populate most dreams. As a bodyworker and meditation instructor, I worked with former President and First Lady Reagan, who despite my liberal leanings, were impressively kind and in love. I found myself working for Wendi and Rupert Murdoch, and a slew of other movers and shakers who could easily buy and sell my wildest visions of achievement. I made tea for Eckhart Tolle when he stayed in my house. I washed and dried his shirts, brought him meals and escorted him through enthusiastic throngs of fans as we traversed the nation of India on his book tour, a mad honor to be so close to this reclusive genius of enlightenment.
Yes, I had goals, I realized in unfamiliar astonishment. It feels good to have goals, and to reach them. And yet here I was, my dusty goal book in hand, realizing there is even something better. And I hadn't found it. Rather, it happened to me.
I perused my goals from two years ago: career goals, family goals, travel goals, financial goals. They were all still relevant, and yet I was no closer to reaching any of them than when they were penned many moons before. Not because I had become lazy. On the contrary, I'd been busier and more productive than ever.
What happened? My daughter Lucy, now 4, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy about two years ago. She's disabled, or differently abled, as is the trend to say these days. Traditionally, the type of brain damage that provides a cerebral palsy diagnosis doesn't heal itself, and so there is a feeling of permanence to the condition. A new pace, a new focus, a new challenge emerges in every moment. There is a whole new normal born in that diagnosis.
And yet, as mothers are known to do, I left no stone unturned looking for therapies. Therapies rarely promise a cure, but they can make life better. And anything I can do to make her life better, I must do. It is naturally in my heart.
I no longer work toward goals, I realized. Lately, I work for Lucy. Caring for her, organizing her care, working to pay for her care, making appointments, fundraising, advocating for her rights in her school district, changing diapers, keeping her safe, all the while, barely sustaining my career to fund our rather expensive existence. It's more than a full-time job, it turns out. I didn't realize I was qualified to meet such a hefty challenge, and yet oddly, we do alright.
What is perhaps even more odd? My entire beingness is full of love and devotion for this sweet soul. At this point, she can give nothing. She must be walked, fed, pottied. And yet,there is no question or pause in working for Lucy. Could it be that this one function, to give, brings more satisfaction than a dusty goal book ever did?