It happens sometimes. To all of us. We hear a little inner voice, or feel a little nudge. We want to ignore it at first, because it usually comes out of nowhere, blindsiding us with the changes it’s suggesting. “Do this now,” it says. “This is the Next Thing.” Maybe it involves rethinking an old mindset, or taking on a new challenge, or having a new experience. I heard that voice whisper to me two years ago, as I sat on the grass in a park and listened to music from a nearby stage. I was wearing a blue dress, and that whisper told me to change my life.
I was in that park wearing that dress because, on a last-minute whim, I had decided to travel to a certain city to go to a music festival. Some friends were going, and I thought I’d convinced myself that I couldn’t afford a flight, a hotel stay, and all the other incidental costs and inconveniences that make even a short trip a major undertaking. But then I did go. I don’t know why. Maybe the little voice was already at work in the background, putting me in position before it cleared its throat and spoke.
When it did, I was myself chatting with a young man I’d just met. He was a musician, a percussionist, with a band I’d heard of but never seen live, so I didn’t recognize him. He was actually taking a break from music at that point, however, to become–of all things–a librarian. He was studying Library Science (which is what they call it, strangely) at the local university’s summer session, and at that moment he was feeling a little guilty about neglecting his homework to take in some of the festival. He should get back at it soon, he said.
The thing is, I was a musician, too. Kind of a lapsed one, at that moment. I’d freelanced for a few years, running around from gig to gig and calling myself my own boss, when really everyone I worked for became my boss, if only temporarily. I was burned out, to be honest, but I persisted because I wanted to be a person who lived for “art.” This aspiring librarian I’d just met said that he felt like that, too, sometimes, and that he hoped to work for a radio station or something when he got his brand-new degree. That sounded nice.
The breeze wafted over the park and the leaves of the impressive trees responded. The sun shone and music played, and I looked over from my place in the middle of this urban greenspot at beautiful character homes built of yellow brick in one direction and quirky little shops and restaurants in the other. I liked it here, even though I’d only seen a small part of this city in just a couple of days. I heard my new acquaintance talk about his classes and the assignment he had due for tomorrow, and I thought what he was talking about sounded interesting, and that I maybe wouldn’t mind thinking about those things, too. That’s when the voice spoke. “You could do this,” it said. “You should do it, and do it here. This is how your life turns next.”
Of course my initial reaction was What? I’d had no intention of this kind of upheaval. Moving? Going back to school? Changing my life and my profession completely? I was just here for the weekend–on vacation! But the voice is never on vacation. The voice is always on duty, waiting to nudge you into your life, instead of letting you stand outside of it. Because no one should do that. So Listen. Hear. Then Do The Thing.