I heard a small-time country singer on the radio the other day 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’s voice said. “I have Garth Brooks on the other line and he wanted to talk to you.” (For those of you not in the know, Garth is a country music superstar: Über-famous.)
This vignette got me thinking about opportunity. Some opportunities only come around once and if you miss it, it’s gone. This doesn’t mean that other good things won’t present themselves, but there are certain windows that open only briefly and then close. I seriously doubt that Garth Brooks will call that guy again. I know for a fact that I will never have the chance to take my junior year abroad. I don’t adhere to the 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 never going to happen. Doesn’t mean you can’t find happiness now. Doesn’t mean that you can’t be playful, or go to a park and slide on 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 all reminders to Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Seize the moment, the opportunity.
There is a recipe for creating an optimal state of inviting in opportunity, a formula for good fortune, if you will, and it is this:
First, you prepare your outer self. You practice and hone your skill. You ask others for guidance. Second, you prepare your inner self. You cultivate a quiet and alert awareness and receptivity; yoga, meditation, or any contemplative spiritual practice is excellent for preparing a fertile ground for opportunity to plant itself. Lastly, you answer the damn phone. You say “Yes,” rather than “No.” At every possible turn, you say yes to trying things, go places, extend yourself. “Yes” opens you up; it expands your horizon and your heart. “No” closes you down and contracts both your inner and outer landscape.
(A caveat: sometimes “No” is the best answer. Obviously both “Yes” and “No” can be in one’s highest and best interest. You must be discerning about to whom and what you open yourself. Generally speaking, you should trust your gut. I mean this literally. Your gut is very intelligent. Listen to your heart-mind and your gut-mind and not just your fickle, wandering brain-mind.)
You can think of this optimal state of being open to opportunity in terms of a game of jump rope; the jumper—you—waits, rocking to and fro, watching the rope and finding the flow, the rhythm, and when you feel in sync, you hop in. If you jump early, or late, or fail to jump at all, you either trip yourself, or you stand like a big fat loser staring at the rope. You have to be ready (preparing the outer self), you have to be willing (preparing the inner self), and you have to jump in.
Saying yes might be exhausting sometimes, and it will certainly take you out of your comfort zone, but it will absolutely 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 fearlessness and openness. It is the trust that, in risking yourself and opening to life, all sorts of amazing things will happen, and it is the knowledge that even the “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. My heart was too full. 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 kissed that girl, or taken that chance.”
Answer the phone. You never know who might be calling.