The Unexpected Danger of Putting a Call on Hold
“Denise, there’s a call on line 1 for you. He wouldn’t give me his name and said ‘you’d know what he was calling about’.”
“Can’t you see I have my Do Not Disturb light on?” I replied. “Tell whoever it is I’m busy and I’ll call him back later.”
My assistant responded that the caller said he would hold until I was ready. I hated sales people who were that obnoxious and couldn’t hear “No” and I brushed her off impatiently with a “Fine, he can hold until I’m good and ready then!”
I went back to the project I was working on, aggravated at yet another interruption. I was behind the eight ball already on this day, with a to-do list longer than my arm and the end of the month looming ahead of me.
Years ago, my husband had asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Only half-jokingly, I had answered “Eight extra hours a day so I can catch up on what I always have undone at the end of each day!” He bought me an Ipod instead, commenting that if I had more hours I would likely just try to fit more in on my schedule. I remembered that I needed to try to find time to upload some music for relaxation onto my Ipod and wondered if there was a teenager to whom I could outsource that task.
As I was turning out the light to leave the office, late that night, I noticed that the hold light was blinking on my phone. I picked it up and said impatiently, “This is Denise. Who is this?”
The voice on the other end of the line said, “It’s your life. I’ve been waiting for you.” I dropped the phone and started thinking about how long I had been avoiding this call.
For years, everything else came first, that is … everything that felt like an obligation or a distraction. Each time I heard the whisper of this call, I filled my hours with something – another project, another committee obligation, another anything – just so I wouldn’t have to sit with the voice of this caller who wanted me to look at the meaning of my life and why I was here. I avoided this call because I was afraid I would have to do something about what I heard if I listened.
How does the call of your life haunt you? Does it come from inside you on Sunday night when you start dreading your return to the office. Is it the pain in your heart when you hear your six year old daughter cry because you’re leaving on another business trip that will have you away from home more nights instead of tucking her in and reading The Velveteen Rabbit. Maybe your call sings out the familiar phrase “Do Something” when you read about the people who have lost everything in the latest weather disaster and you wish you could get that song out of your head and just get back to enjoying American Idol.
Calls are serious business. Responding to them is how we make something worthwhile out of our lives.
Not every call is a blockbuster, star-making epic. One or two of them may take up most of our time, but other more urgent calls weave their way into our lives from time to time.
Some of them, like being a nurturing, attentive parent or riding out the illness of a friend who needs our extra attention, engage our minds and our hearts and do not earn us accolades or cover photos on national magazines. Others draw us deep beneath the noise of social conventions and impact lives in unimaginable ways. It is neither the duration nor the visibility of the call that matters.
A life-changing call engages your ability to listen to both the subtle and obvious messages that rise within you and to see the nuance of something transcendent in the role before you. You answer the call through your willingness to move beyond merely filling the role or carrying out the duties a task requires by choosing to imbue your intention and your courage into your actions.
Not answering the call doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it often escalates its frequency or intensity to capture your attention. First pebbles, then stones, then boulders raining down on your life if you continue to ignore it. The call of your life is persistent and insistent. Thank goodness, really, that it doesn’t give in to our occasional wish for it to just leave us alone so we can get on with business as usual.
When you get serious about answering your call, mentors and supporters will appear. They will guide you with teachable moments and they will appeal to your innate human longing to be more than what you presently are.
As you move toward answering your call, they will help you draw upon your courage to step into the potential that sounds quietly in your dreams.
You have a choice, to just live your life, work a job, and fulfill a role or to commit to answering a series of worthy calls within this life of yours.
Listen carefully to the whispers and shouts of your calls and answer them with all the passion and cleverness at your disposal.
Use every means of introspection and mentorship available to you to help you find the courage to answer the call to make a difference – both where you find yourself now and in the place where your unique path takes you. After all, there’s a call for you on hold right now, all you have to do is answer it.