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New Goals As Big as the Sky

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It was early spring. Pierre and I were taking a long walk in the Jura Mountains, just the two of us, happily alone for an afternoon. We were following a cross-country ski trail, no longer covered with snow. Clusters of wild daffodils speckled the dark-green meadows. The sky was cloudless; below us, Geneva was hidden in the fog.

We had talked about his work and his plans - his career, his traveling, his advancement. We had talked about the children and their plans. I was thinking about what each one of them was doing, about what each one of them wanted to do.

It was then that Pierre turned and asked me about my plans. I stopped walking and searched for an answer. My mind went blank, not a single idea. I had no plans for the future. I felt dizzy and went to sit down on the low stone wall bordering the familiar path. Pierre sat down alongside me and waited for me to say something.

Finding no answer, I said, "Why are you asking me that?"

"You are always asking me," he said. "It's your turn this time. What do you want to do?" His voice was careful.

As I sat there, I realized I didn't know what I wanted to do. I also realized that I didn't know who I wanted to be.

Who was I? A wife, a loving wife. A mother, a loving mother. A daughter, still a daughter. Yet all these roles were in relationship to others - my husband, my children, my parents. Who was I all alone, without these other people? Who was I in relationship to myself?

When I was a child, I thought about being a tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, and other things. My world was then as wide as the blue sky under which I dreamed. What did I want to be? It wasn't things such as daughter, mother, husband-keeper. I wanted to be either a violin player, a solo violinist at Carnegie Hall in New York, or a president, the first woman president of the United States.

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