With unmitigated surprise, I suddenly realized I’d been practicing a song on the piano that quintessentially expressed how I gained entry into show business, though there was no available proof that I could.
How about that, huh? Snatching a moment from his busy life for an expression of genuine wonder and amazement?
Okay, that’s enough.
People have frequently considered – often in front of my face – how I, a hopeless lump of helpless humanity, had, against all reasonable predictions, landed in a world of driven and determined competitors. Once, years after I had established myself as a recognized comedy-writer, a Canadian television executive proclaimed – walking across a crowded room to proclaim it,
“I can’t tell you how surprised we all are by your success.”
After placing a silent curse on his head, my second reaction was an acknowledging,
“You and me, both.”
Exiting law school after only six weeks, I appeared to all – including myself – to be perilously adrift, with no discernible idea of where I was headed.
(Though no expert in equine terminology, “headed” sounds to me like a “riding” allusion. You point your mount’s head in a certain direction, and that is exactly the direction it “heads.” Interesting. Though possibly untrue.)
Habitually, myhead pointed decisively – or, more accurately, indecisively – downward.
Someone recently asked me where I originally contracted the show business “bug.” My immediate reaction was camp, where I wrote and performed, to satisfying success.
But that’s camp, making me a “Rising Star” in Northern Ontario, though it’s no certain predictor of future endeavors. Ask former campers who were similarly bitten, now drilling people’s teeth and helping fill out their taxes. There are substantially more of them than there are me, many with, arguably, more formidable show biz abilities.
So yeah, there was camp. But that did not definitively get me from “there” to “here.”
What else could then explain where I wound up? (And don’t think I don’t ponder this unlikely trajectory. Of course, I ponder a lot of things. No answers. Just pondering.)
In my early adulthood, such as it was, I had my selected medley of encouraging “Brave Songs.” If you’re not particularly religious, and your family’s “Tough Love” admonition is, “Try something easier”, you need something to replace all the negative “Chuffa” – including my own – with unwavering belief. So I’d sing, to vinyl original cast recordings, uplifting anthems like,
“Stand well back I’m coming through
Nothing can stop me now…”
Songs that nurtured my teetering spirits. But, of course, it wasn’t enough. I was performing those songs in my bedroom. There were no agents, cruising the halls of our bungalow, no neighbors with their windows up going, “My sister-in-law’s nephew’s cousin knows this guy…”
I was loud. But I remained unheard.
Wanting to, but doing nothing about it? How would that possibly do the trick? I was a paralyzed dreamer, a traveler, with a colorful imagination but no ticket.
And that looked very much like how it would remain.
And yet… this happened. (Meaning, I did it.)
And I had no idea how.
Until, last weekend when, while casually walking beside the ocean, after many explanatorial “wrong turns”, the luminous message of a song I’ve been practicing burst into my consciousness, suddenly explaining it all.
And I mean everything.
How does a passive person lacking a plan wind up where he always secretly wanted to be? Perhaps I was stronger and more fiercely determined than I consciously recognized, I have sometimes conjectured. (The corroborating evidence here is spotty.)
Or maybe, one night, with ebbing hope and nothing to lose,
I must have apparently done this.
No embarrassing fervent imprecation. More a nudging, “Come on. What do you say?”
The clarifying ditty in question being the following:
(Written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington.)
“When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Your secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
And it worked.
And it worked.
I know it sounds crazy, but, word for illuminating word, that is the most plausible reason for what happened to date.
Not giving advice here. But if you should find yourself in a similar predicament,
Why not give it a try?
It worked for me.
It might work for you.
(Written in a particularly good mood.)