Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Secret can work for you too

One of my friends is a writer. We’ve always talked about wanting to make it, not necessarily together, not that it wouldn’t be cool to both make it together, but writing can be a pretty solitary exercise, and so while neither one of us would object to the idea of both of us making it, together, the both of us making it as writers, it’s just that, realistically, it’s probably more than likely than neither of us will make it, that’s just odds, and so, rather than talk of any potential shared success, there’s just always been talk, about some success, any success. I’d obviously like that success to be for me, but if he were to find that success for him, I wouldn’t be upset. Of course, it’s easy to say something like that, something like, “I wouldn’t be upset at my friend’s success,” when there’s no real success to speak of.

But a while back, my friend, like I said, we’d always talk, about writing, about what we’re writing, about other stuff having to do with writing, one day he says to me, “Hey Rob, did you hear about The Secret?”

And you’re reading this, you see it in italics and capital letters, but when he said it to me, I couldn’t pick that out, and so I said, “What secret?” and he said, “You know, that book, The Secret?”

And I was like, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of it.”

And then I thought about what I was going to say, because of course I had something to say. Everybody’s heard of The Secret. It came out like ten years ago, and it’s already made its way through the various layers of pop culture. I didn’t think there was anybody left who hadn’t heard of The Secret, just like I didn’t think there was anybody left who still took The Secret seriously.

Still, something told me to hold back from saying what I was about to say, which would have been something sarcastic, something dismissive.

“Rob, you should really check out The Secret,” my friend said, and I said, “Oh really? I don’t know. That’s something to do with like a vision board or something?”

OK, so maybe I was a little sarcastic and dismissive, but only a little bit, it was only the leakage of a vast pool of the sarcasm and dismissiveness that I thought I was doing a pretty good job of holding back.

But it was enough sarcasm that he got it, he said, “OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking, but just, you know, if you ever want to try it out, just keep an open mind, that’s all I’m saying.”

And I said, “OK,” and then he dropped it, like he said he would, and I didn’t make any more sarcastic comments, not even a subtle dig, even though I wanted to, even though for the rest of the time we were talking, I kept wanting to wave my hands in the air, I kept wanting to say stuff about the vision board, more stuff about the vision board. I tried to think of other The Secret jokes I could come up with in my head (and then commend myself later for having held back) that didn’t have anything to do with vision boards, and that’s when I realized that I guess I didn’t really know anything about The Secret, except for vision boards, and for maybe a moment or two I thought, wow, I’m really judgmental, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge things I don’t know anything about.

But then the conversation changed, I eventually stopped thinking about The Secret, and that was the last I thought about it for a while.

But here’s the thing: it totally worked. The Secret, it totally worked for my friend.

“It worked! Everything I wished for came true!” my friend told me the next time we caught up.

“Everything?” I couldn’t believe it.

“Yes! Everything!” he was so happy.

Everything he wanted became reality:

First he got a regular column on a really high-trafficked web site. His column attracted millions of followers overnight, and within a week, one of the leading print magazines offered him an even more popular column, in addition to his already successful Internet column. From there, someone set him up with a famous YouTube celebrity, and my friend started his own YouTube channel, and all of his videos started raking in hits, again, hits by the million, and he made sure that everyone had to watch a fifteen second commercial before each view, which didn’t even stop anybody from clicking away, and so he made a ton of money on advertising. Almost immediately after that, he started getting bombarded by calls from agents: book agents, movie agents, comedy agents, all-purpose agents that did everything. He wound up going with one of the all-purpose agents, and his new agent got him this ridiculous book/TV/sketch comedy/spoken word contract.

“Wow, everything …” I said. I couldn’t believe it.

It’s true, The Secret works. It worked for my friend. He’s proof that it works. And I’m going to do it too. I’m going to do The Secret also. Now that I know it works, there’s no reason for me not to do it. I haven’t done it yet though. I keep meaning to order it on Amazon, but I recently boycotted Amazon, ever since that article came out about how everyone at Amazon is miserable because Jeff Bezos makes everyone work until they drop, and then he fires them. Also, there was that story about the people working at the Amazon fulfillment center, and about how it was so hot inside the warehouse, but there were no ACs, and instead of installing ACs, Jeff Bezos hired a bunch of ambulances to wait outside until workers collapsed from heat exhaustion, and then he fired them.

So I was going to just go to the bookstore and pick up a copy, but it’s just one of those things that I keep putting off. It’s not like I’m deliberately putting it off. I just need to get around to actually doing it. I say I’m going to do it, and then I don’t do it, and then I think about why I haven’t done it yet. I should probably just make it a point to do it, to leave the house, to go to the bookstore. The way I have it in my head right now, it’s more like, well, whenever I happen to find myself out, and whenever I happen to come across a bookstore, maybe I’ll just find myself by chance walking down the self-help aisle, then I’ll do it, that’s when I’ll get myself a copy.

I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to. Because it works. The Secret works. It worked for my friend. It’ll work for me. And it can work for you too.

A lot

It just would have been a lot. So when I heard that they were on their way, I made the decision to just get back on the road, fast. It was the only way that we were going to make it home at a reasonable time. The check engine light wasn’t on. The car wasn’t overheating. We weren’t in any sort of immediate danger. There was a vibrating, a low rumble that I noticed wasn’t usually there. I later realized that it was the sound of the broken belt whipping around and around whatever it is that belts are wrapped around on the underside of the hood. But it did give me a pretty nice amount of anxiety, not so much on the highway, but definitely in the Lincoln Tunnel. Right before we entered the tunnel, we had passed through the toll booth, and I don’t know if it was in my head, or if something really happened, or if it’s a problem that’s related to or not related to whatever it was that was going on underneath the hood that was causing that rumbling sound, whatever it was that caused the AC to stop cooling the inside of the car, but there was this moment when I slowed down to let the toll get collected, and then I floored it again, but the car didn’t seem to want to change gears, it just kind of revved up without really picking up any acceleration. And so that’s when I got the anxiety about the car. Driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, it’s one lane each way, with absolutely no space to go around or anything like that, and I thought, if this car breaks down in this tunnel, what would I do? We were sitting there in the heat, the windows were open in the tunnel, which is disgusting, because it’s basically this subterranean tube where the atmosphere has to be mostly comprised of exhaust gasses. We had our baby in the backseat just being directly exposed to this stuff. It smelled awful, just disgusting, and that was after having cruised through the New Jersey Turnpike with our windows down, so it’s not like we weren’t used to disgusting industrial smells.

Anyway, we didn’t break down. The car made it through the Lincoln Tunnel. It made it through Manhattan, onto the Queensboro Bridge. We made it back home and were even able to squeeze into a really tiny spot on the good side of the street right outside of our house. Even though it was still over ninety degrees, I got out of the car with the engine still running, I popped the hood and I took a look inside, looking for this belt, this mysterious piece of equipment that I’d never actually seen in real life. I mean, maybe I’ve seen one in real life before. But if I did, it was totally by accident, just in my line of sight, without any sort of explanation, no, “Look Rob, this is a car belt.” No. But I had an image in my head. I still do. I still really only have that mental imaginary image to go by, because when I opened the hood, one, it was so hot that I couldn’t stand really close for more than a second or two without feeling as if my face were about to be just exhausted right off of my head, and two, I have no idea what the underside of a car hood is supposed to look like. There’s the spot where you pour in the windshield wiper fluid, OK, I got that, and there’s the dipstick, again, that’s not really something that I’d classify as automotive knowledge. I didn’t see any belts. At least, nothing that looked like the belts I’d conjured in my head. The engine itself wasn’t even visible. It was covered with this big black piece of plastic. And yeah, everything was just really hot. I couldn’t even hold the hood up, well, I could, and I did, enough to use that stick that’s used to prop the hood up. But it was hot. And I probably wouldn’t have been able to prop it up for much longer than I did.

Now there’s this lingering question of: when am I going to get this fixed? How am I going to do it? Where am I going to take it? Am I going to have to take the baby with me? Should I maybe try to figure out some day when I can do it where someone will be around to watch the baby? Would that be possible? What about the logistics of dealing with the repairmen? I guess I could just tell them that the AC isn’t working. Should I mention the buzzing? Because yeah, I already have this belt theory pretty much established as what’s going on. But when I take a step back, I don’t see why I’m so confident as to why I think that this is the answer. It’s all based off a five second conversation with my dad, followed by a mostly unsuccessful way too cursory a glance underneath the hood of a machine that I know all but nothing about. Am I really going to walk into a mechanic shop armed with these thoughts? Are they even worth sharing? These guys are professionals. But how professional? Are they going to really look everything over? If I come in and start talking about belts, are they going to assume that I have an idea as to what I’m talking about? Will they take this fake knowledge for granted, and thus zero in on just the belt? What if there’s a real problem with the car, one that has nothing to do with belts, but because I’ve convinced them that I’m a serious guy with a working knowledge of cars, what if they ignore all other issues? What if they execute a targeted belt change, without even bothering to take a look outside of the immediate vicinity of the belt? And what if I wind up having to take the baby? Am I going to be doing all of this negotiating and convincing while I’m holding a baby? And what if the baby poops? What if it’s like a big, blowout poop, all down his legs, and I’m struggling to put him down somewhere, and the mechanic is like, “What did you say? A belt? What belt?” And I’ll be exposed, as a fraud, like I have no idea what I’m doing. And the guy will be like, “This is no belt problem. You’ve got catastrophic engine failure. It’s a good thing you made it here without breaking down.” And I’ll nod while he stands there and speaks to me in a language that I don’t understand, all about parts and operations, complex procedures I’ve never heard of. And I’ll have to stand there and nod and at least pretend to understand what he’s saying to me, but all the while I’ll be thinking, how much? How much is this going to cost? And he’ll keep talking and talking, so much so that by the time he finally does come around to naming his price, his endless dialogue about the things he’s going to have to do to even begin thinking of fixing this car, it’ll all have been a metaphor, a long justification, like, you think it took a long time and a lot of work to explain what I’m going to have to do to fix this car? That’s nothing compared to what I’m actually going to have to do. It’s going to take forever. You might not ever even see this car again. Just be thankful you didn’t break down in the Lincoln Tunnel. And here’s your answer: it’s going to cost a lot. It’s going to cost a lot of money to fix this car.