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Stay Tuned

“Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!” we were repeatedly told as kids by the man with the baritone voice speaking from that big wooden box in our living room when television was new, TV channels were few, and every next episode of “Lassie” was exciting. We practically held our breath. Would Lassie find her way home? Would everything turn out okay? Obedient kids, we definitely stayed tuned.

Vintage television (stock photo)

Today, seventy-plus years later, it’s much, much harder to stay tuned to any one thing. We’re flooded by more channels and media outlets and myriad distractions than we could possibly tune into in a day (or week or month), all vying – pushing and shoving – for our eyes, ears, and minds. It’s as if we’re being knocked about in a writhing sea of debris. Have we become part of the flotsam and jetsam?

It seems to me now, in my continuing pursuit of a renewed sense of purpose – or, you might call it, my quest for “the next exciting episode” of my life – that the trick is to stay tuned. Tune out the distractions – as difficult as this might be – and tune into those innermost channels of heart and soul.

There are ways of achieving this, I think: You might go for a solo walk in nature. Or meditate in solitude and quietude. Or pray to whatever your conception of a Higher Power or Great Spirit is. Then listen – and act.

Here’s a recent, small example of what I mean:

This week, on a walk to one of my favorite parks here in San Miguel de Allende, Parque Zeferino, taking the long route, along the liebramiento, on a sunny late morning, I had what felt like an inspired thought. It was an idea for a small business initiative for the young father of my now nine-month-old namesake in Mali.

He was eleven years old when I first came to Mali and his family hosted me. Now he’s in his mid-thirties, a responsible married man and father of two young children, the second of which is a girl whom he named after me. (My Malian name, Bani, pronounced like Bonnie, is the name of the sister river to the Niger.) He and I are friends on Facebook, which is how he has kept me abreast of his family’s news and sent me photos over the years.

My namesake, Bani (9 months) in Segou, Mali

I proposed my idea to him in a FB message when I returned home from my walk, and he liked it. He has an educational background in business administration and a steady office job, but salaries in Mali are understandably low. Life in Mali is difficult. My idea could supplement his income and benefit his whole family –including, of course, little Bani.

The startup costs would be minimal. I offered to pay for the equipment he would need, and he accepted with thanks and grace.

Yesterday I went to the Western Union office here in SMA and sent him the small amount of money needed. To think that this idea, which came to me on a solitary walk on the hills of Central Mexico, could – if it comes to fruition – lift up a family on the other side of the world, in central Mali, West Africa, gave me immense joy and a much-needed sense of purpose.

It’s moments like this that I live for now.

If this “inspired” idea ultimately results in a worthwhile little enterprise, I’ll certainly report on it in future WOW posts. But for the moment this story is one of hope, connection, love, and purpose.

So stay tuned!

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