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No one seems to acknowledge luck in the making of their success. Every bonehead who wins Survivor calls themselves brilliant at the finale, but everyone knows the truth. Each winner could have been tossed off the island many times, forced to shamble along the Walk of Shame. As Douglas MacArthur said, “In war, you win or lose, live or die – and the difference is just an eyelash.” It’s true for everything else, too. We’re to all as brilliant as we’d like to think. (Corollary: Often we lose, but that doesn’t mean we suck as human beings, either, so cheer up.)
Daughter #1 saw an old newspaper story about me on the wall and asked if that was my proudest moment.
“Nah. You and your brother are my biggest accomplishments.” Yes, this is the obligatory answer, but it’s also true.
“Conning your mother into thinking I was the best she could do.”
Long story short: I went for a walk a long time ago at the University of Ottawa. Had I turned right or left at just the wrong time, The Saint/Hottie/She Who Must Be Obeyed and I would never have gotten together. I didn’t know it then, but I had one shot that fateful night. What if I’d gone east instead of west? What if I’d waited another hour or not gone out at all? I often think how easily things could have gone another way. I’m sure I would have ended up in Toronto anyhow, but I’d probably still be there now in an awful job paying alimony to a couple of angry ex-wives.
“What’s your next biggest accomplishment?” Daughter #1 persisted.
At this point, I started to panic that she was looking for a list of ten or something insurmountable like that. “Uh…early in my career, back when I was a healer, I got a woman out of a wheelchair.”
“Why aren’t you still doing that since you were so good at it?”
Kids. They sure make you sweat. “I think…” I said, having no idea what I’d say next, “that just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it forever.” Also, being a healer is outlawed by my alternative health profession. I found that I was constrained by my profession as a massage therapist to a more technical approach since my return to Ontario. I peaked early and did my very best work in the first four years of practice when I wasn’t under The Man’s thumb. It chafes, that gap between the ineffable and the bureaucratic. That work was right at the right time, but that suit doesn’t fit anymore. I’ve changed and so has the profession of massage therapy in 20 years. I haven’t liked where it’s been going and needed to break out.
I need to assert my indie-pendance. And here I am starting Ex Parte Press and writing books and putting them out there and being the real me.
But that suggests I planned something. I didn’t plan anything. I fell into things. I succumbed. More decisions were forced upon me than I made proactively. In short, I lucked out.
I have been following my heart and writing for free or writing for very little for some time. Thank Zeus I didn’t send out any of my novels and get accepted somewhere. I might have gotten locked in prematurely to a bad deal with a publisher. Now is a great time to be a writer and get on the self-publishing train. I wasn’t waiting in any conscious way. My career path is not strategic. I just kept writing books without submitting them, preparing for forming this company and publishing my stuff on my own. I didn’t know I was preparing for the future. I was just answering my heart’s call.
That’s how I fell into being a healer, too. Now I’m falling into this soft place where I hide in my basement bunker and write or type (and sometimes I don’t know which of those things I’m doing.) I hope the luck will be the good kind again.
Obi-Wan didn’t believe in luck. But he was a suicidal Jedi who couldn’t manage to kill a guy he chopped up and left to die by a lake of fire. Who cares what that loser thinks? If you’re going to kill Darth Vader, you better have the guts to finish the job!