Friday, February 16, 2007

Secrets anyone?

I've started my very first test knitting project and it's progressing nicely. It's done using two strands of a ladder yarn, which I've never worked with before (and may never again) and which presents its own unique challenges. The pattern is quite simple, which means that it's a relatively mindless (read, boring) project -- except that I have to pay close attention or I end up going through the strands of the ladders and that makes a mess.

While working on the test knit the other day, I tuned in to Oprah and she was talking about a new book/DVD called The Secret with the author and several folks who contributed material, including James Canfield, he of Chicken Soup for the ____ fame. Intrigued, I watched as they discussed how you can manifest things in your life through the power of intention. Now I'm not sure they ever really said that, but that's essentially what it seems they were saying the book/DVD addresses.

I'm a firm believer in the adage, "What goes around, comes around," or if you prefer, "What you put out, you get back." I learned that early on in Sunday school singing "The Magic Penny." The key lyric in the song is "Love is something when you give it away, you end up getting more." To me, this just makes sense. If you walk through life expecting little, it's exactly what you find. Is the glass half empty or half full? Do you look for the positive in your everyday existence or are you always looking over your shoulder expecting the worst?

Now I admit that I haven't read the book or seen the DVD. I did pick up a copy at Costco yesterday and leaf through it, pausing to notice that it is almost entirely a collection of stories and quotes from others who claim to help people move forward in their lives -- all the while selling them more and more books, tapes, and retreats where folks can discover their inner power or whatever. I have to wonder sometimes -- if they're so darned good at helping people unleash their inner power, rise to their divine purpose, create the success and wealth and beauty and inner peace they've always wanted, how do they stay in business? Wouldn't they run out of customers at some point? I mean, if you really are good at teaching people how to do those things, then it woud stand to reason (in my mind, anyway), that you would constantly be needing to recruit new students to keep a revenue stream flowing. I suppose there are countless of opportunities to find those new students, but I highly suspect that much of their revenue stream comes from repeat customers.

Maybe I'm overthinking this. Maybe the secret really is knowing how to pander to the masses looking for that one thing that will unlock happiness and fulfillment and joy in their lives.

Personally, I think they should listen to Jack Palance as Curly in the movie City Slickers. He knew that the secret to life was one thing. As he said, "Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean shit." When Mitch, played by Billy Crystal, asked him what that one thing was, he replied, "That's what you have to find out."

Therein, my friends is the true secret. No one can define that one thing for you. Only you can do that. And no library of self-help books and videos will provide you with the one thing. They can show you examples of things, they can give you clues and new perspectives, but they can't give you the answer -- that must come from within yourself.

As for me, my one thing is simply this: Everything that happens and everyone I encounter is an opportunity for me to learn something. Sometimes I don't realize I've learned anything until the moment is long gone. Sometimes I know right then and there that I've been impacted by someone or something. And sometimes I steadfastly refuse to believe there's anything of value in the experience at all. Silly me. That free will thing we have can really get in our way sometimes, don't you think?

And oh, by the way, not everything that occurs in life is, or should be, positive. Bad things happen. They hold lessons, too. Sometimes purveyors of self-help programs/books/whatever sound like they're selling a one-way ticket to a life filled with nothing but abundance, wealth, health, love, you name it. To quote yet another cliche source, "I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden!" Life isn't all fun and good and bounty and mirth. Sometimes life sucks. But bad times have their own lessons to teach, even if we aren't the most willing and eager of pupils. When someone says, "Why me?" I say, "Why not?" I mean, seriously, would you rather it happen to your neighbor?

Anyway, if you want to buy a copy of The Secret I think that's great. Just don't expect it to give you the magic key that's going to make your life perfect, or a Top Ten list of things to do to be happy. It might help you discover new ways of looking at things, and that may lead you to figure out what your one thing is, and that would be grand. But then, the Bible might do that for you, or the Qu'ran, or the Tao Te Ching or Dr. Phil or ______ (insertyour favorite text/author here).

So how does all this pontificating and philosophizing relate to my knitting on the test knit or anything else? Gee, I'm glad you asked! You see, a while ago, I stated an intention to the universe (and anyone within earshot). I said, "It would be so cool if I could somehow get paid to knit!" Friends who indulge my knitterly obsession just smiled and agreed that would be a nice thing for me. The fact that this was sometimes accompanied by a subtle eye roll or a pat on the shoulder didn't phase me a bit. :) Anyway, I put the intention out there. And now I'm actually doing it! Once I finish this test knit project and send it in, I will get a real, honest-to-gosh paycheck in return! Not that I could live off the proceeds or anything, but that's not really the point. The point is that I envisioned it, I stated it as something I would like to do, and now I'm doing it. Coincidence? Providence? Fate? The power of intention? The Secret? I guess it could be labeled any number of ways.

For me, I choose to believe that what you expect, what you believe, what you live comes back to you. The universe has a way of maintaining balance. Oh my! Now I'm starting to sound like Desmond in the last episode of Lost!

Okay, armchair philosophy 101 is over for today! If you've read this far, you deserve a reward of sorts, so I leave you with a picture of some yarn my friend brought me from China. I'm not sure what it's destined to become, but I have the intention of making something nice from it one day.


Anonymous said...

I did stick through the philosophy :). And I agree with Curly. There is no one out there with the answers to your life's problems. If you want something really bad you have to get it yourself, no one else is going to give it to you--no one!

I was once called a catalyst, I came in contact with people and the specific person started being successful and doing more things. No, I didn't do anything to make them do things with their lives, I just nudged them along and told them that they could do whatever their mind wanted them to do. A friend of mine comes to mind. We met in college, she was always alone in the front of the class, I was one of the back seat students (you can read between the lines, hehehe) and I befriended her after realizing that she always looked at me. We started hanging out, first you saw that her style of dress changed, then her mannerisms, then she began walking a bit more confident and speaking up. Later on she was with me in a society for geeks (ok, honor society) and I nudged her to become more involved than just a member. Anyways, short story, she changed and no, not because of me. She just wanted to feel accepted. Now she works in London for some hotshot firm. Me--well, I am stuck in Utah--knitting with looms! ha!

Anyways, I think we have all the power to make ourselves happier--and yes, we just have to find the ONE thing :).

Knitting Bandit said...

I enjoyed Philosphy 101. I am a big believer in what you send out into the lives of others, comes back to you. In fact just this morning I heard a story that made me think "Aha! This ghuy got it back!" It is one of a select few philosophies I've tried to insill in my kids. maybe that's why they enjoy "My Name is Earl" on TV so much--they've been hearing about "karma" their whole lives!