Plan B Nation on NPR! (plus a few thoughts on faith)

NPR Sign

Plan B Nation is end­ing the year on a high note, hav­ing been fea­tured in a ter­rific report by Karen Brown on New Eng­land NPR. You can lis­ten, here. (My writer friend Naomi Shul­man, also fea­tured in the seg­ment, tells me the story begins at the 7:25 mark. If you’re not sure what that means—I I wasn’t—try start­ing about halfway through.)

[12/3/12 update: there is now a sep­a­rate audio link for this report.]

As I lis­tened to WFCR this morn­ing, I mar­veled once again at how quickly things can change. I launched this blog just last month—November 13, to be exact. Since then, I’ve pub­lished more than 20 posts and con­nected with dozens of amaz­ing read­ers from all over the coun­try.  I’ve also picked up a bunch of free­lance work, started draw­ing up a busi­ness plan, and—for the first time in quite a while—been feel­ing pretty optimistic.

If you’d described this state of affairs to me two months ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.  In fact, as I’ve writ­ten before, I almost didn’t start this blog.  I was at the point where it was hard to believe that any­thing I tried would pan out.  To put it diplo­mat­i­cally, I was feel­ing slug­gish. Psy­chol­o­gists call this “learned help­less­ness,” this much I knew. But while I was clear on the diag­no­sis, I was clue­less as to the cure.

I’ve writ­ten a good bit about tran­si­tions lately—about why they (always) suck and also about key points to keep in mind while wrestling with change—but I failed to men­tion that they rarely pro­ceed at a steady pace.  We work and work for what seems like for­ever with no appar­ent result.  And then one day, for no appar­ent rea­son, every­thing seems to shift.

I’ve seen this in my own life again and again. And I was reminded of it the other day when I spoke with a lovely friend who had been wag­ing a lengthy and dev­as­tat­ing strug­gle with Lyme dis­ease. She’d fol­lowed doctor’s instruc­tions for months, to no obvi­ous effect. Then she woke up one morn­ing to find that the pain had dis­ap­peared overnight.

In the same vein, in my own (and still ongo­ing) tran­si­tion, I’d been doggedly plug­ging ahead for more than two years, with­out sens­ing much progress. I’d given up keep­ing count of the num­ber of jobs I’d applied for. And while I got the occa­sional free­lance project, they were few and far between. Then, out of the blue, things started to click.

In this way, change often feels more like a quan­tum leap than like a steady climb, as if we’ve trav­eled from point X to point Y with­out pass­ing through the points in between. We may won­der why things took so long if all we had to do was this.  (The answer: Because that’s just how tran­si­tions seem to work.)

For me, this is where faith comes in. And by that, I don’t mean some abstract meta­phys­i­cal belief—I’m not some­one who believes that Things Work Out For The Best or Every­thing Hap­pens For A Rea­son. (In fact, I’m the sort of per­son who responds to such claims by instantly invok­ing the Holo­caust or geno­cide in Rwanda.)  But I do believe in cause and effect—the power of our actions. I have faith that if we keep tak­ing small steps, our lives are going to change.

© 2011 — 2012, amy gut­man. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Plan B Nation on NPR! (plus a few thoughts on faith)

  1. I agree with you about cause and effect. Specif­i­cally, that if you cre­ate a cause, there will be an effect–the impor­tant thing is not to get hung up on what you want/intend/imagine the effect to be. I’ve had that expe­ri­ence of try­ing and try­ing to land free­lance gigs (not to men­tion book con­tracts) and noth­ing work­ing out as I planned or expected. Des­per­ate dis­ap­point­ment is an emo­tion I’m famil­iar with. But ulti­mately some­thing else did hap­pen. Some­times it was bet­ter than what I’d hoped for. Some­times I couldn’t tell. But I firmly believe in cre­at­ing causes.
    Stephanie Golden recently posted…Floored by a footMy Profile

  2. Hi Amy, I heard your inter­view on NPR this morn­ing and I was reminded of our time together on the To Bee or Not to Bee spelling bee team ear­lier in the year — I admired your humor then and it’s great to be able to enjoy it again in your blog! Good luck to you with this newest endeavor of yours!

  3. Amy,

    This is excit­ing, and you sound great in your inter­view. We, too, have a Karen Brown at Mis­sis­sippi Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing, and her radio show is called “Mis­sis­sippi Edi­tion,” which comes on right after “Morn­ing Edition.”

    I love your blog!


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