About two months ago, I stumbled upon a movie called “The Secret” while perusing through the “On Demand” movies offered by my cable provider.
What really got me was the preview, which pretty much promised that if I watched the movie by the end I would be rich enough to hire Donald Trump to wash my car while George Bush rotated the tires.
This sounded perfectly legitimate to me, except for that part about Donald Trump because I doubt he even knows how to wash cars, and so I eagerly hit “buy” on my remote and was bombarded for almost two hours with all sorts of “positive thinking” imagery that boiled down to this single premise:
“Whatever you can visualize will come true.”
“Wow!” I thought. Who knew it could be THAT simple? Now, there have been many not-so-proud moments in my life whereby I suspended all disbelief and tried one hair-brained scheme or another. Usually this occurs when I am particularly desperate for money, like the time I tried to convince my friends and family that they should join a network marketing company where the main product was an e-book that appeared to have been written by a fifth grader under some type of duress, in which the over-arching theme of the book was the notion that you could “retire quickly” if you got a job that paid you more money. Pure genius!
And so, I gave it a shot. For the past two months, I have been visualizing myself as a fabulously wealthy author with a penchant for fish and chips loaded with extra salt and vinegar. I don’t know exactly why, but the extra salt and vinegar has played a key role in my visualization exercises, to the point that I have spent more time thinking about the salt and vinegar than all of the money I’m supposed to have as a fabulously wealthy author. And oddly enough, in my imagined life as a famous author I apparently have an overwhelming affection for Cool Range Doritos which I tend to dip in bowls of Cherry Diet Coke when no one is looking.
The first time I tried this visualization exercise, the results were less than stunning. Within minutes of imagining myself eating fish and chips while being interviewed for the New York Times Book Review, I suddenly felt a couple of drops of rain on my head. Now ordinarily this would not be a big deal but for the fact that at the time I was sitting in my kitchen and what was a couple of drops quickly escalated into what felt like a Peruvian waterfall. Granted, I have never been to Peru or Peruvia for that matter but it was a lot of water. Long story short, my visualization exercise had managed to clog the upstairs toilet and flood my kitchen with what my children referred to as “poo-poo and pee-pee” water.
The second time I tried it was on a plane to Atlanta while on a business trip. This time, I imagined that I had become famous by writing a cookbook about the many different ways to cook fish and chips and that my big breakthrough was a recipe in which the batter was made of Cool Ranch Doritos and Diet Cherry Coke. In this visualization, Martha Stewart decided to buy my cookbook franchise and we were in the middle of arguing about her desire to sell my cookbook at K-Mart which I strenuously objected to. I was right in the middle of explaining to Martha my rationale – basically that I didn’t understand what a “K-Mart” was but it sounded too much like “Special K” which is a cereal I despise – when the plane hit some kind of supersonic speed bump that catapulted my Diet Cherry Coke through the air, causing it to ricochet (love that word) off the seat in front of me and dump its content right on top of my Thinkpad T60 thus rendering it completely inoperable unless its sole purpose was to act as some kind of square alien Frisbee with an amazing ability to stick to things (thanks to the Cherry-ness of the Coke it was, shall we say, super sticky).
The last straw happened this weekend. I was sitting in my living room attempting to once again visualize myself eating fish and chips while sitting on a stack of dollar bills. In this particular visualization, they had just brought Jack Lemon back to life in an amazing scientific breakthrough so that he could star in the movie version of my tenth novel. My visualization this time was rudely interrupted by my wife Clare, who informed me that there was a suspicious puddle of water underneath our hot water heater. This led to a series of events whereby some guy named Butch showed up at my house, took one look at my hot water heater, announced to the entire family that it was deader than Jack Lemon (ah, the universe can be so cruel), and proceeded to write up a bizarre invoice that didn’t mention anything about fish and chips or my world famous book but that did inform me that I had just joined some sort of “Gold Club” that would entitle me to a $60 discount off the $2,300 he was about to charge me to replace my water heater.
And so, the next time someone tells you that simply by imagining something you can make it happen, my advice to you would be to go eat some fish and chips and leave it at that. You may not be rich but at least you’ll be happy. And don’t forget the extra salt and vinegar.