Discovering My Calling on the Beach
25 August, 2023
Author: Lisa Buksbaum, CEO & Founder of Soaringwords, TCP Board Member
- Transformation can come in the midst of a crisis.
- There are times when we spontaneously receive an inner knowing, by hearing a voice or realizing a thought that deeply clarifies our understanding, even showing us our life purpose.
I received clarity about my calling in life during the height of my son’s illness, while I was taking a walk on the beach in the early hours of the morning.
The ocean’s majesty and rhythm soothed my body. My negative thoughts were carried away with the current. The sky went from black to gray as if a photograph had been yanked out of the developing solution midstream. The gray looked like an absence of color. It suited my mood perfectly.
On that morning, I started singing to the seagulls and the sky: “Elohai neshama sh’natata bee, tehorah hee.” God, the soul you have placed in me, she is pure. I sang this prayer in Hebrew over and over again, hanging on to the melody as it propelled me along the shore for the next quarter mile.
I shifted into singing another beloved prayer known as the Shehecheyanu, fondly considered the official prayer of my family. “Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam, sh’hecheyanu, v’kiyemanu, v’higiyanu l’zman ha’zeh, amen,” I sang repeatedly, which means Blessed are you, Lord our God, who has sustained our lives, fulfilled us, and enabled us to arrive at this moment.
I rocked myself into a joyous place of gratitude as the accompaniment of the seagulls’ chorus propelled me forward. A fisherman with dark brown eyes and a weathered smile turned as my melody reached him a few feet before I arrived in front of his bucket. I peeked inside the bucket filled with dozens of shimmering fish that would be someone’s meal at the pier restaurant later that same day. I gave him a thumbs up and continued singing along my way.
Finally, I approached the boardwalk at 113th Street, the halfway point on my morning constitutional. I sang Carly Simon, Carole King, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr., and Sade. The familiar tunes gave me the most comfort. I sang, “You’ve Got a Friend,” and remembered strumming my guitar in my bedroom to calm myself as a teenager when Gary was having trouble breathing. That day, however, as I sang each stanza on the beach, the sky shifted from nothingness to lightness. My steps grew brighter too. The sky spilled out over the ocean for as far as I could see. It was magnificent. It was rejuvenating.
My son Jonathan’s neurologist had been right to recommend that the family move closer to the sea, and I felt fortunate that we had the means to do so. The sea air and ocean were healing. I prayed they would wash their healing powers over our son, like they were doing for me.
Then it happened.
Suddenly, the shape of a wave popped into my head.
I saw and heard a word: Soaringwords.
The word was loud and clear. Not a lyric from a song.
Soaring. It felt like it sounded: like flying up to the sky, hanging out with the clouds. I had chills and suddenly stopped in my tracks. My entire life flowed out in front of my eyes, like streams of brilliant red taffeta ribbon fluttering in the morning breeze. I could imagine those vulnerable children and downtrodden parents I had seen with Jonathan in the pediatric cardiology and neurology waiting rooms.
Suddenly I had a knowingness, a feeling, that I was supposed to teach and guide them to connect with an inner strength that could help them endure impossibly difficult situations.
I understood that everything in my life had led me to this moment. I could use these things that my family had endured to help others. And although I had enjoyed my career leading me to becoming the president and founder of an award-winning marketing and communications company, as I stood gazing out at the vast ocean, I understood that my true mission in life was to help children and families grappling with serious illness.
This was my calling. As I stood there on the beach, I took it all in. Then I closed my eyes and I accepted the call.