The Real Secret

Some hippie once told me that I shouldn’t worry about material goods and money because “The universe will provide”. This was years before The Secret taught people that they should just wish for stuff. That hippie was sitting on a goldmine; a patchouli scented, jam band loving goldmine. I told that hippie to get a job and for good measure to go F*ck himself. I doubt that he did either of those things though because he was busy waiting for the universe to provide him with a new hackey sack or a pair of sandals.

I don’t believe that “the universe will provide” things like new pants, money and a robot butler just because it likes me; to expect that it will is ridiculous and it discourages actually working towards goals. Furthermore, believing that the universe could be working for you specifically is incredibly self-centered. That said, I can’t help but feel that the universe does occasionally drop a hint.

On Sunday night my wife and I went out to dinner and somehow I found myself talking about Johnny Thunders, dead junkie guitar hero Johnny Thunders. When the conversation started I was laying out my plans for a writing project but somehow I took a turn for the hopeless, describing the sight of a drug addled Johnny playing the guitar with his clothes torn and his voice barely understandable. On a depressing to watch DVD called In Cold Blood you can see Johnny dying but then something happens, as he’s playing the Ventures classic Pipeline you see for just a few seconds that it all comes back; the swagger, the confidence and the LIFE all appear for just a moment as if somehow his brain and body find the sweet spot in its particular part of the universe and he remembers that THIS is how it’s supposed to feel (you can see him play Pipeline here). In retrospect Johnny was already a dead man long before they found him in that hotel in New Orleans but he didn’t know it at the time and so every time he fixed a shot in the bathroom or picked up his guitar he was trying to find that feel again. This is a feeling of trying to stay in those magical moments is something I understand well. I write a lot but not as much as I should because I get frustrated by my inability to find what I think are the right words; I’ve had various projects started and stopped over the years because of this. Sometimes, when the things are just right it falls into place for a few moments and the words just write themselves, but more often than not this isn’t the case and I find myself searching for the feeling. The number one reason I don’t write more is simple frustration. My wife reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect but knowing that and actually going forward in spite of the difficulties is another thing; this is where the hint dropping aspect of the universe stepped in.

Over at The Onion AV Club they have a feature called Permanent Records: Albums From The A.V. Club’s Hall Of Fame. Yesterday I checked it out and found that they were discussing one of my favorite records ever, The Replacements – Hootenanny. Now this record is a lot of things, but perfection isn’t one of them. It’s sloppy and it’s out of tune at times but it works somehow and I love it as much as anything else I have in my record collection. I didn’t need the AV club to tell me to like this album but I needed the article for something else, near the end the writer of the article says: “Hootenanny brims with personality, and though The Replacements’ real masterpieces were ahead of them, their second LP was a deck-clearer that gave Westerberg the confidence to mature.“ That was the “Oh Yeah” moment, the reminder that not every thing needs to be perfect to be good and I need to work my way through the messy stuff in order to get to the truly good things, it’s all part of the process of creating something. In short, I should lighten up, get to work and just see this project through regardless of the final results.

So, there you have it, the universe dropping a hint in the form of a music write up of an old record. Was it coincidence? Probably but I like the idea of the cosmos nudging me in the right direction by using The Replacements too much to fully concede it’s blind luck that I read it just when I needed to.


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