This. Is. Fascinating.

One of the Radiolab podcasts. Riveting.

REBROADCAST: Detective Stories - Radiolab


Because the only way to get there is to go

Four years ago, someone talked me into starting a blog.

Okay, I thought, this is a good chance to try out the idea that naming something has power.

I do not believe that we bring reality into being by calling it forth. If that were true, there would be no atrocities in Darfour, no limbs hacked off by vicious machetes in Sierra Leone, no earthquake, fire, or flood. But I do believe what my music-making son says. "Luck is preparation plus opportunity."

Naming our most honest desires is, I suspect, part of preparation.

We do it all the time, right? We declare an academic major when we are in college. We get pre-qualified for loans, declaring that we wish to buy a house or a car, and sometimes we do this even before we've decided which house or car we want. Even filling out a library card application is an act of declaration before a desire can be realized, even if the declaration and the library card are separated by a very short time (depending on how quickly the library assistant can type the information into the computer). We do this all the time. We set our will in motion by making a declaration.

And so, I did.

I decided to use this blog as an experiment. I want to go to school, I typed into the computer (several computers ago). I want to re-gain my job as a sub at the library (I openly declared in front of WorldWideWeb and everybody - feeling quite brazen at the time). And what happened? A few short months later, there I was, working at the library and going to school. It made me a little dizzy because it felt like it had all happened so fast!

But here's the thing about declared intentions. They are never quite what we thought we meant by making them. Youth teaches us to "pick a goal and go for it," but youth cannot tell us what to do when we've purchased a lemon from the car lot, which breaks down by the side of the road every twenty or thirty miles, despite our complete confidence that this was the car - the one and only car - the one meant for us, why surely this is God's Will for our Lives that we buy this car, this is the one, I know it is. (click on that picture to see some gorgeous photography at kristarella's photoblog)

Was it?

When we're all in, all our chips on red thirteen, our declaration made and the wheel spins ... and ... the marble lands on black three ... did we mis-hear the voice of God?

When the marriage doesn't work out properly (because the spouse turns out to be a louse) or we change our major three or four times before taking any classes (not that I'd know about that) - does that mean we are working the whole "name it and claim it" game the wrong way?

I don't think so.

In fact, I think that there is no other way to follow your bliss, answer your vocation, or make a damn decision than to say what you want, move into the flow of it, realize that you want something slightly (or very) different, and then change directions, make a new intention, and start again. Life isn't marching in line with thousands of other highly disciplined "farmers" and other troops at the Reich Party Congress, staged for filming, set up in perfectionist glory to show one, cohesive, emotional, monolithic, mighty vision for conquest. That's not life. (It's death, actually. Choreographed, terrible, and perfect.)

Real life is messy. It's improv - in this moment and in the next one, according what what actually happens in the meantime. It's hilarious and aggravating and stunning and wonderful -- and it needs to be composted sometimes so something better can grow. Life is hundreds of practice hours and thousands of mistakes and millions of intentions. It's crash and burn and then realize that maybe, next time, it might be a good idea to see if the clunker's got good brakes.

Sometimes we do pick badly. Sometimes, yes, we really should have listened to older, wiser, or more awake people. But sometimes we do the best we can and stuff still just blows up in our faces. And sometimes (this is where I have always stumbled before) sometimes it is simply time to see what we couldn't see before we started moving, but now we can see, and the reason we can see is because we've been in motion. That's how we got here. And so, now it's time to adjust our goals accordingly.

In other words, just because there is a new life path to follow does not mean you were on the wrong one until now.

I have a new life path to follow. I have three more scheduled days at the library as a sub, and I'm done with that part of my path. I have started to teach again, but this is teaching in ways I could never have imagined when I started going to school. I also still have a degree to finish, and I'm pretty sure that by the time I'm done with it I'll know whether I want the MA to go with it. Goddard College has recently made an advanced degree which fits me like a glove.

Or, I think it does.

I won't know until I get there. You have to try on your gloves to find out if they fit. You have to hike to the fork in the trail before you can choose which way to take.

So this is me, making a new declared intention. I want to be a writer, a writing teacher, and a collaborative writer. I have a writing student, and being her coach has shown me a thousand possibilities I could not see until the act of coaching showed them to me. I have the possibility of collaborative projects coming more and more into sight on the horizon, and I have the necessary map and directions for getting my work published. (damn, that's scary to say!)

Four years ago, I started blogging by making a declaration. I want to go to school, I said. I want to work at the library, I said. Today, I say that this was good. And today I revise my intentions again.

There's some light hitting the path up ahead, and I want to be there.


Jackie Evancho

Have you heard this eleven-year-old sing? Probably, by now, you have. But just in case ...