Updated: Jan 29, 2022
“What a simple idea” I thought, “obvious, really, maybe too obvious.”
I had been reading a book by Ingrid Fetell Lee called Joyful - and it was the chapter on lightness that struck a chord with me. My idea was that we need to look up, both physically and metaphorically. This was quickly followed by the brainwave "I could write book about looking up!".
And so it began, back in November 2020, I started to write my book Upward: The Power of Looking Up.
I had not written a book before, but decided I would figure it out as I went along. How hard could it be? Well, as it turns out, my seemingly simple idea took on a life of its own and set me on a journey I could never have imagined.
Over the past ten months I have met, interviewed, and made friends with some incredible people. From artists to astronomers, evangelists to doctors. I have sat for hours and listened to their stories, been inspired by their passion, encouraged by their bravery, and moved to tears by their experiences. I am immensely grateful to them all for their willingness to be interviewed, for their honesty and openness in trusting me with their past histories, present thoughts, and future aspirations. What started out as a single idea of the power of looking up, has, in fact, become a community of voices reminding us of the value of each other and the ability we have, when we change our perspective, to change the world.
This book has become an important teacher in my life - not only of politics, history, and unexpectedly, the Hebrew language - but also in lessons of patience, perseverance and resilience. I have willingly put myself on the line, sent out my proposal time and again, been met with rejection and still, as I write this, have no agent or publisher. But through this process I am learning what matters most, what I am capable of and how I can keep going in the face of disappointment.
My mantra for writing is 'Joy first'. If joy is at the beginning of what I do, I can handle the rest. Joy has become my why, the reason I write. Of course, there are many other reasons for writing this book and I feel a huge responsibility to those wonderful people I have met in sharing and telling their important stories. But, if it becomes a drag, a chore, a grind, then where is the joy? Joy is the fuel in my tank.
So, the idea of looking up started as a small seed and is now a growing tree that has many branches. I never thought I would be sitting here, almost a year later, with a nearly completed book under my belt. And, I guess, that is the power of looking up - looking upward, not behind at what you have done or where you have been, but to what is ahead: above and beyond, to where you could go, to what you could become in this life, to those around you that also need to be seen and known. Looking up is lifting our heads, removing the blinkers and gazing towards the horizon of possibilities. There is so much to see when we look up.
If you have any thoughts or comments, ideas or inspirations on looking up - I'd love you to share them below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter and if you have a seed of an idea, see what happens when you plant it, act on it and care for it. You never know, you may just end up with a tree of your own that you can look up at and say "Wow!"
Image via Unsplash