The Whim

In 2000 I was working part time as on air staff for the Nebraska Public Radio Network, now NET Radio. I worked Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m., and Weekends on All Things Considered aired during my shift. Radio announcers have a strange job. They step into a little room and everyone in the listening area (in my case, the state of Nebraska) knows everything that happens.

On a whim, I decided to submit one of my stories to The National Story Project, an NPR series of author Paul Auster. My story was included. The day my story aired, our network preempted this spot with a Met Opera broadcast. I never got to hear the program live. One of my listeners happened to be listening on another NPR station (maybe she didn’t like opera), taped the show, and sent it to me. I was touched. This is the archived show.

I thought that was the end of it. I thought that would be my one brush with fame. I was wrong. A while later, I received a letter, asking me release my writing for inclusion in I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR’s National Story Project. Now I was a published author (sort of)! They sent me a copy of the book. I read through it. I enjoyed it. I showed it to friends.

A few years later, I received an e-mail message from Lee Schneider, a documentary film maker, who was working on a project called, Chance Happens. This was completely unexpected and I was skeptical. Then my research showed one of the members of the production team had been involved in the book. I went with it. At this point I started to believe that maybe the Universe was trying to tell me something. My whim was starting to make me believe I had something to offer. I started to think seriously about writing.

This morning, I came across this blog post. It helped me relive the process that started on a whim 14 years ago. Is there a moral to this story? If there is, it’s to do things on a whim. Take those silly opportunities when they appear. The secondary moral, don’t assume you know what’s important all the time. The Universe has a crazy way of throwing together people and things. Go with that flow. It’s full of wonderful surprises.

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