It's a question that can leave the most grounded and accomplished of individuals trembling with insecurity: "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?" For writer Sara Davidson, this question was also the motivation behind her book, Leap!: What Will We Do with the Rest of Our Lives?. Gayle talks to Sara about her book and her revelations about embarking on the rest of her own life's journey.
Sara says the decision to write Leap! came from her own circumstances. She had spent years as a successful writer of best-selling books and television shows; she had raised two children; she had experienced love and relationships. Then in her 50s, Sara says she was dropped by her agent and dumped by her boyfriend, and her life "fell apart." "For the first time, I'm sitting alone in my house with no work, no kids, no prospect," she says. "I was panicked and scared because I thought, 'I could have another 30 years and I feel healthy. What am I supposed to do? Why am I still here?'"
Sara says she set out on a quest to do some soul searching and write a book on what she and others from her generation were experiencing. She coined the phrase "the narrows" to mark this new and scary passage in her life, which she says occurs for most people somewhere between their 50s and 80s. "It's a strait, it's a passage," she explains. "And let's not put any sugar coating on it—it's not fun, it's painful, it hurts."
In doing her research, Sara interviewed dozens of people from all walks of life and discovered she was not alone. She discovered others like herself who were healthy and expected to live longer than ever before, but who didn't want to simply retire and fall off the radar.
Although Sara says there is no single answer to handling "the narrows," she says pulling through any transition in life requires a leap of faith. "You have to accept that you're in a transition and you can't know what's ahead," she says. "You can't see what's coming around the bend and you have to somehow learn to just move with the current and see where it takes you."
During this period in her life, Sara says she also had to confront her own mortality, as well as other inevitable physical, emotional and spiritual changes—all of which led her to a deeper understanding of who she really is and what her purpose is in life. "What I came to understand is that there's another way of looking at surrender," she says. "It's when you open your arms as if you're going to scoop up a child or meet a loved one, meet your long lost friend. You do that with life—you just open your arms and say, 'Hit me with your best shot, whatever comes, I accept, I'll take the fullness of it, and I can take it.'"