The other day I was in my therapist’s office, whining about all the usual stuff, like unemployment, mounting debts, insomnia, frustration, and how getting ill really kicked my ass (and so many other things) this year.
My therapist suggested I use the power of my imagination to induce a little self-hypnosis at home. Maybe I could find some peace by visualizing something that made me happy.
I came home to a pounding, sweltering, 86 degree apartment. With the air conditioner on the fritz, and a half-dozen workers outside putting on new siding, it was like my own mini-Gulag. I took an ice-cold shower, threw on some shorts, and then went to retrieve my noise reduction headphones from the closet. A book fell to the floor.
My landlord, Sharon, is a proponent of the laws of attraction. She sent me this book and its companion CD last year. I listened to the CD the same way I listen to the nonsense spouted by intellectually-bereft new-age gurus like Byron Katie. Few things chill me more than thoughtless bromides like Katie’s “I am the perpetrator of my suffering – but only all of it.” I’ve written about the tyranny of pop-psychology before, and won’t repeat myself here except to say that no, I don’t believe that if a madman stabs your child to death, and you suffer, that you had a thing to do with perpetrating your feelings of loss and grief, not even a little bit. I also don’t believe that your failure to “think positive” caused your house to be robbed, your cancer, or your flat tire on Hwy 101.
Anyway, the book fell, and I decided to read it before self-hypnotizing myself to some happy, quiet, cool place that was far away from the pounding hammers and nauseating heat of my reality. It took me about five minutes to get through all 59 pages, in which “the secret” was revealed as: Give (tithe) so you can receive; open yourself to receiving rewards and other good things; you can receive anything you want if you accept it mentally; your thoughts make your world; your thoughts are what you subconsciously attract to yourself; let go of the past, etc., — and if all of this fails to bring you riches, success, and happiness, it’s only because somehow, somewhere you’ve not really mentally accepted good as your due, and are hanging onto some attitude that is rejecting being blessed.
Ah. Think it and be it — I know it well. I spent the years from my teens into my late twenties reading books about how to fit in, get ahead, make friends, and succeed. I chanted self-affirmations, developed a firm handshake, and learned that making other people feel good made them feel good about you. I envisioned a room of my own and a life spent stoking creativity. The reality was quite different which can only mean, according to the laws of attraction & seed-of-faith theories, that I didn’t believe enough.
I got up from the couch to make some juice and check my email. Marlboro had sent me a reminder me to enter their 100 Days of Summer sweepstakes. (I know people think it’s somewhat hypocritical that I’m a health food freak who smokes, but hey — just because you have one unhealthy habit doesn’t mean you should slack off and have ten).
The prize on day 75 was a Ford Mustang GT, which rivals only the Eddie Bauer edition Ford Explorer as my dream car. Yes, I like my Fords. I’ve had a Focus, a Ranger and, in better times, a big Ford F-150 that made me feel like the queen of the road. This year’s economic hell has me downgraded to an old Ford Bronco that needs work, but never fails to start and run.
I laid back down on the couch and started thinking about the prosperity book I’d just read. The first law of attraction was that in order to receive you had to give. And although I think it’s bad juju to tally up mitzvahs I did, and pleasantly found that I’ve given more in the past few years than I’ve received. I should have stayed with that thought, but instead — as usual — I had to ask why. That’s when I remembered my somewhat arrogant tendency to jump to the rescue, even when people don’t ask. I have a helper personality — I probably would have made a good butler or personal assistant. I like fixing things and finding things. So I’m not sure those mitzvahs count.
Then I thought about Ford. And Marlboro. Two brands that I’ve been loyal to for almost thirty years. Surely that counts, and if the law of attraction is true — that your thoughts dictate what you receive materially — well then, I’m definitely winning that car, because I think about Ford every time I step foot on my rusty siderail, and I think about Marlboros at least several times a day.
I’m mentally accepting that this Kona blue 2010 Ford Mustang GT Premium is mine, along with the $9400 check that completes the grand prize. I expect that the notification of my win will be delivered via overnight mail on Monday or Tuesday. I haven’t decided if I’ll keep Sally (that’s her name) or ask to exchange her for a Ford Explorer. I can easily visualize me and Sally navigating the narrow incline of the Pacific Highway — taking the long way to visit friends like Suzanne, Danny, and Kris — but I can also see Hank and me finding a sponsor, and taking off on a year-long journey of meditation, people, adventure, and discovery. Either thought makes me deliriously happy.
(To be continued).