Soul Matters, June 2014

I recently heard a local country singer on the radio talking about the difficulty of hitting it big in the music business. He shared how, one day, feeling tired and discouraged, he’d heard his phone ring and decided not to answer it. Later, when he listened to his messages, he discovered that it was his agent who had called. “Too bad you’re not there,” the agent said. “I have Garth Brooks on the other line and he wanted to talk to you.” Ouch.

Some opportunities only come around once. This doesn’t mean that other good things won’t arise, but there are certain windows that open only briefly and then close: I don’t imagine that Garth Brooks will be available to chat again, and I know for a fact that I will never have the chance to take my junior year abroad. I don’t believe the bumper sticker adage that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. Yes it is. If you are an adult who did not have a happy childhood—barring a reincarnated experience—it’s simply not going to happen. Of course you can still find happiness: you can be playful, or go to a park and slide down the slide, but you will never, ever, be a young, physically uncompromised, carefree little person again. Period.

I’m not being a naysayer here; I’m being a Yeasayer. These points are reminders to Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Seize the moment, the opportunity. You might be tempted to see that singer’s story as an example of bad luck, but I don’t see it that way. He wasn’t unlucky. He just didn’t say yes.

There is a formula for good fortune and it is this: First, you prepare your outer self. You practice whatever it is that you love. You hone your skills and ask for guidance whenever you can. Second, you prepare your inner self. You cultivate a quiet, alert awareness and receptivity; yoga, meditation, or any contemplative spiritual practice is excellent for preparing a fertile ground for opportunity to plant itself. And lastly, you answer the damn phone. You say, “Yes,” rather than “No.” At every possible turn you say yes to trying things, going places, and extending yourself. “Yes” opens your horizon as well as your heart. “No” closes you down, contracting your inner and outer worlds.

Saying yes might be exhausting at times, and it will certainly take you out of your comfort zone, but it will also make your world much bigger, and the bigger your world, the greater the number of opportunities that will present themselves to you and the more chance there is that something wonderful will enter and take root. “Yes” is an attitude of courage and openness. It is the trust that, by risking yourself and opening to life, amazing things will happen, and it is the knowledge that even the so-called “bad” things are just experiences that grow your wisdom.

At the end of the journey no one ever says, “I tried too many things. I was too open to adventure. I gave too much. I said yes too often.” Never. People say, “I wish I’d answered the phone. I wish I’d gone to France. I wish I’d played more. I wish I’d kissed that girl, or taken that chance.”

There are only so many opportunities, only so long that you are young, only so long that you are healthy. This life, she is short.

Answer the phone. You never know who might be calling.