28 for 29, #17: Ami Dar

Some folks believe that every 28 years or so, your Saturn returns, bringing all sorts of changes and chaos. I’ve been using this idea as an excuse to ask friends, family, colleagues, and near-strangers all sorts of nosy questions about what their lives were like around my age.

I just turned 29, and whether you believe the planets are involved or not, my life did change significantly this year. One major decision was to leave my job at Idealist after nearly six years. While there, I reported to this guy (well, the grown-up version of this guy). 


Here’s my interview with Ami Dar.

Julia: Does the term “Saturn returns” mean anything to you?

Ami: No :)

J: Where were you when you turned 28?

A: I turned 28 in 1989 (whoa!). At that time I was living in Tel Aviv, in a crumbling (but free!) beach-front apartment that a friend of my mother’s had let me use. I was working for Aladdin – a small software company that a friend had started – while obsessing about the idea that would later become Idealist.

J: What are one or two or several things you remember from the year or so surrounding that birthday?

A: I remember a lot :) At a global/news level, 1989 was an incredible year, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of that year, the end of the Cold War, and all the events leading up to and flowing from that point. I’d been a news junkie since I was a kid, so watching these events unfold in real time, and seeing a seemingly stable world order change so quickly, was an amazing experience. I also had a more “selfish” interest in these events, in that a freer and more open world would make it much easier to create the kind of global network I was dreaming about, so witnessing that explosion of freedom was doubly exhilarating for me.

More personally, I also remember deciding – under serious family pressure :) – to finally “grow up” and get a college degree, and then dropping out after two months to go back to the stuff that I was really passionate about. There was also a wet and freezing January of reserve military duty up on the highest mountains facing the Syrian border; watching the Mediterranean, in winter storms, lashing the Marina facing my apartment; and swimming late at night, alone or with friends.

J: Do you feel close to those memories, or far from them?

A: Very close, closer than to some of my later years. It was a good year.

J: Do you have any advice for someone going through this (supposedly) astrologically tumultuous time?

A: Hmm. “Advice” is a tricky word. The main thing, I think, is to realize – if you haven’t by then – that life is full of surprises, that planning is invaluable but plans are often useless, and that decisions that seem crucial and life-determining when you are in your twenties will diminish in importance in hindsight. Don’t believe me? Wait and see :)

Thanks, Ami! I believe you. I think.

Curious about Ami’s story and work? Learn more via his Top 10 Lessons Learned Since Starting Idealist or his 2011 commencement address to CUNY School of Professional Studies graduates.

Photo courtesy of Ami Dar. 

Other former or current Idealist staff who have participated in this series so far: HannahKaraCelesteRuss. I’m so grateful for the years spent working alongside all of these folks.


4 thoughts on “28 for 29, #17: Ami Dar


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