Friday, September 21, 2012

Radio Stations

Every now and then, I notice how life seems to bring me just what I happened to be needing at the time. For example, I was feeling restless during this sweltering summer we just had, and wishing that I could find some motivation to get out more and reconnect with my life. Boom -- educational events, a women's getaway weekend, lunches with friends, invitations to write and speak.

Some people attribute this kind of thing to supernatural forces that bring us what we want if we just wish hard enough. Conversely, if you're not getting what you want, you must not be focusing your attention properly or wishing hard enough or some such thing. Too bad for you, unemployed, under-insured, stuck-in-poverty people! You just need to try harder. I just can't buy that kind of thinking. It turns this whole thing into a rationalization for the wealthy and fortunate to hang onto what they have and not care about anyone else.

On the other hand, I do believe that we tend to find things more easily when we are actively looking for them. It's like tuning in to a specific radio station -- all the other radio stations are there, but the one you're tuned in to is the one you hear. If you have preset buttons or a favorites list, then you go back to those stations again and again, and you tend to forget about the other stations. If you only listen to the same playlist that's already on your iPod, how will you discover anything new?

So -- if my usual radio stations are playing crap, it's time to go searching for something else. Better radio stations, or CDs, or YouTube, or live concerts. Where are they playing the music I want to hear? Who listens to the same music that I do?

I'll back off from the music metaphor and turn to life in general now. When I'm just working as hard as I can to get through the day-to-day, I don't have much energy to devote to thinking about what I need out of life. My life gets into a rut, ruled by other people's urgent needs and ambitions. The nagging little voice that calls me to something higher is overwhelmed by the rush of things that really don't matter in the long run. It's only when I step back, claim and defend my own territory, that I can pay attention to that insistent little voice.

I might not achieve fame and fortune, but I can start here and now with what I already have and nurture those things. I can turn my intentions toward those things that make me more alive. I can tune into the station that says, "Yes. These things aren't just for someone else. You're capable of so much more than you've given yourself permission to try. These things aren't reserved exclusively for some privileged class of 'other people'. Step into this new territory and explore."

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