Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thinking in Circles

For 20 plus years I made my living as producer and co-host to a political talk radio show. We interviewed lofty politicians and those who aspired to be. We also interviewed vastly successful business types -- basically anyone with power.
There were other shows too.

I once was a weather girl: I worked weekend mornings and M-F nighttime gigs for two different television stations. We did a daily radio show on Music Row talking to high profiled music execs, and a weekend television show that disected the spin in political ads. We also did this one really neat show called Beyond Reason that had to do with the unknown.

Common denominator for all this? The ability to ask a question (and then shut up and let the person with the wisdom, answer. Shutting up is a big part of asking questions. You’d be amazed at how long it takes some of us to learn it; and some never do. But I digress…)

As it pertained to politicians, there were very few visionaries; mostly there were egos. Those successful in business I enjoyed most, as I soon learned that those who were happiest, having figured it out, had gotten past their egos. They were as comfortable talking to a janitor as they would be the president.

Another thing I noticed about the highly successful (success being measured in worldly things like dollars and power back in those days; I define it quite differently today)-- These people thought differently from most of us.  Where I made a daily “to do” list (a linear proposition of things that I had to tackle, kinda like hitting the heads on those Hungry-Hungry Hippos over and over again each day)…The successful, I noticed, thought in circles and cycles. They anticipated that a good idea, to be successful, would require a system of operation that was cyclical, not linear in approach. They put forethought into the maintenance of things before maintenance was required. They weren’t just focused on being known for having come up with a great idea… (a mindset mostly lost on most politicians I’m sad to say. Granted, they have to keep an eye on short term personal goals like re-election that can get in the way of focusing on one truly large vision…but again, I digress).

Never has this “thinking in circles” (i.e. in cycles, in recurring patterns of day to day operation) proven more true than living life on a farm.

For instance, mamas with babies (be they goats, be they dogs) will feed those babies, grow those babies, then return to a cycle of heat, whereby (unless altered) they’ll have more babies and repeat the process all over again, as will their babies. (In my case, the goats will be doing this. Rosey’s future is to return to her own role and identity after this. She’s done a yeoman’s job of being a mother and bringing forth a lineage of one of the sweetest natured protectors to ever hit a farm, but one litter is all we plan for her. She will be spayed after this, after all, everyone else around here is a rescue. A topic I’m sure will make for another blog…)

Another pattern of cycles: gardening (the main reason for this entire blog experiment: to follow one full year of how the planting, weeding, harvesting and storing of one’s own vegetables goes with the help of those who’ve done it and those doing it still…while we still have them to learn from).

Bottom line: life is about cycles.

People ask me if I miss talk radio. My answer is not the political. The anger of talk audiences especially where politics were concerned has grown exponentially. I couldn’t hack it now. Don’t want to. Don’t miss it.

What I have missed is asking questions of bright people who know things, which, as I’ve written in prior blogs, I no longer assign to the powerful and elite. It’s in the farmer who knows how to read the signs…the local butcher who can describe the cycles of his business…the grain operator who can anticipate the shortage...the house wife, getting ready to can and store what her garden’s about to bring forth this year.

I’m a big believer in mentors and have been blessed with the best, not the least of which was Teddy Bart, who taught me the skill and importance of asking a pertinent question...Thanks to him, radio is a part of me…of who I am. It will always will be, and asking questions (as a matter of profession) is forever in my blood ...

But the focus of anything going forward for me at least, is less about what the world deems rich and successful, but more about what makes my life rich and successful…what makes any of our lives rich and successful (cause I don’t think I’m alone in this).  If my journey into the core of that one question is something others are asking as well, well, then this chapter of my life (even here on the farm, cleaning up after puppies and taking too long to stop and hold a newborn goat) will have been well invested.

At least that’s my goal.

To reach it, I start by accepting that success is not a star to shoot for somewhere “out there”…Instead, it lies in defining and constructing a system of living that circles in its own defined orbit, allowing me (or any of us) to live more peacefully with Mother Nature, yes. But more important…to live more peacefully within my (our) own skin.

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