"Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!"
- Bob Marley
I'm not usually at a loss for words. For me, a blank page (or a blank screen) holds no angst. Bring it on! But this week, I'm struggling a little. You see, Sara Jennings' story is so big — so remarkable, so inspiring, so distinctively hers (and yes, so relevant) — that I feel a huge responsibility to tell it well. Frankly, I don't even know where to begin on this one. World traveller, political activist, environmental warrior, actor, puppeteer, educator, local mover-and-shaker... these are all tags that partly describe Sara's path through life. And yet, her personal journey encompasses so much more. So what to do? I guess I'll just start with the obvious.
Did you know that Sara holds the distinction of being Whistler's first baby?
It's true. "My mom made me promise that I'd bring it up in our conversation," confides the 36-year old, a nervous/high-energy chuckle following her revelation. "I even have a little Cup that says I was Whistler's firstborn." More laughter. "I don't remember it, of course. But I do have a picture of me in my parents' arms receiving the Cup from mayor Pat Carleton..."
And no, for those detail-sticklers out there, Sara wasn't actually "born" in Whistler. "I first saw the light of day in the Squamish Hospital," she says. And laughs again. "But I was back in the Valley in no time." And for Mayor Carleton and his council of the day, that was good enough for her to qualify as the new community's firstborn.
I know. I know. There were other babies born to Whistler Valley residents before Sara came along. But when they first appeared, the place was still called Alta Lake. And that's where her story is so compelling. You see, Sara's birthday — October 13, 1975 — occurred less than a month after the Resort Municipality of Whistler was officially created by an act in the B.C. legislature. Thus her first-born designation. Cool, eh? And somewhat fitting. After all, Big Sis is now showing the rest of her Whistler "siblings" what it means to get involved in making the world a better place.
"It's funny," she says. "Among the kids I grew up with — particularly those who were born around the same time I was — there was always a hint of competition about the whole first-born thing." She pauses for a beat. Sighs. "You know, it's kind of ironic that I'm number one. To be honest, I couldn't care less about it." She smiles. "But it's a neat little quirk of mine..."