Thought No. 12: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

"Necessity is the Mother of invention." 

“...let us begin and create in idea a State; and yet a true creator is necessity, which is the mother of our invention.” -The Republic, Book II, 369c, Plato

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People often ask me, “What made you decide to open a restaurant”?” and I respond: “Because my business partner and I wanted to put an elevated dining experience in an underserved area.” That sounds great! We sound like real pioneer ladies. It’s not a lie – but with every reason behind an action, there is often a deeper motivation leading one to do something that involves so much risk.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a housewife and a mother. I wanted to be a glamorous, Ginger from Gilligan’s Island type of housewife. A martini in one hand (wearing a gold lame gown), holding a baby and waiting for the man I loved to come home. That was Shangri-La to me and I had it for a moment – until it fell apart. I lost my husband and my home, and found myself forced to think about what I wanted for my life. The life I thought I was going to have was over – with no way to fix it, other than to accept that very fact and move on. I also had to figure out how to support myself and my child – and quickly.

So I did – and I decided to go big. I didn’t know if I would even be good at it. For me, ambition was something that came and went, like a fever. Sometimes I would catch it, but I most certainly was no Madonna. What started out as a conversation between two acquaintances, turned into something much bigger. As a result, I discovered a dormant skill-set I didn’t really know I had access to.

Plato's words roll around in my head, over and over again. He must have been in a similar situation, of sorts – because, if I would have had it my way: I would still be a housewife. When I tell people that, they look at me like I just slapped them in the face with a cold fish – but that’s the truth. I can see the judgment in their eyes, but I think most people don’t find their calling, unless a catalyst forces them to. Meaning, if circumstances didn’t drive them – they wouldn’t have embarked on an ambitious journey.

After the loss of a home, a divorce, moving three times and keeping a restaurant open for four years, I’ve created opportunities and discovered a skill-set I’d never dreamed I’d have. I was forced to, because of the situation I found myself in.

A therapist of mine once said that we re-live our childhood pain, over and over again, until we conquer those fears in adult life. Once successful, we can move on to the next spiritual level. It’s kind of like a mini-reincarnation – right here on Earth. For those of you going through a painful, life-changing moment – I offer you this: You just might find the person you were always meant to be, but didn’t have the courage to be. It is, in fact, those painful set of circumstances that can set you free. I’m not going to say the process is pretty, however – because even now, every day I scream “Uncle!” to Lord Vishnu, as I’m lying on the mat.

Best,

Jen