How Things Work
(I cut this piece from Live Your Truth because it didn’t fit the narrative arc. It’s 100% true.)
I don’t remember when I first started reading James Altucher‘s blog, but I clearly remember the first time I met him. San Francisco, Thanksgiving weekend. Sunday. He and his wife, Claudia, were in town and we’d set up a breakfast meeting; them, myself, and a few others.
Except I didn’t show up.
I’d recovered from being sick, but my body still wasn’t at 100% yet. I’d often get tired and sleep and sleep. And that morning – one I’d been looking forward to, excited – I slept right through my alarm and the texts and the phone calls.
I don’t want to remember how I felt when I finally woke up, realizing I’d missed out on meeting someone I admired, someone whose written words had meant so much to me. And I’d put the meeting together, I’d made this happen, and now my friends got to meet him, talk to him, the guy behind the words, and I’d slept through it.
I sent him apologetic emails, groveling tweets. He responded kindly and rescheduled. This one, I was not going to miss.
We met at the lobby bar at the W downtown. I got there extra early, had a coffee, ate, and there he was through the revolving doors, in the flesh, and beautiful Claudia with him.
When you’ve admired someone’s work from afar, had conversations via email and comments on his blog, you wonder what they’ll be like in person. He’s the real deal. If you read his blog and close your eyes and imagine what he’d be like, you’re right – that’s him.
I was so excited, I talked and talked. I told him about being sick, about loving myself. He said immediately that I should write a book on it. I put the thought aside. He’d brought a few of his books as gifts and autographed them for me, including his latest, I Was Blind But Now I See. In it he wrote: Kamal, now you have to publish your book, James. He underlined “your.”
We met again five months later, this time in New York City. I was there for a day and he took the train in and we had breakfast together. Once again, he mentioned that I should write, follow the creative path inside me. I put it aside, but this time, a little less.
Few months later, I wrote the book and published it on Amazon’s kindle platform. James wrote a blog post on it and the book took off. I got emails from people all over, sharing with me the impact of the book. To say it was humbling is an understatement.
A month after, I was skyping with a friend, and decided to pull out one of the books James had given me, show her his autograph. I opened, I Was Blind But Now I See, showed her what he’d written – I’d forgotten that by now – and said, “Ooh, that’s cool,” continued talking, flipping through the book, the chapters I liked the most, to the back cover, then the page before the back cover.
“Look,” I said to her, “he must have used a print on demand service.” I was thinking about using one for a paperback version of my book. “It’s got the date of publishing on it.” It said this:
Made in the USA
24 September 2011
And then I stopped.
“What’s up?” my friend asked.
I ignored her. I knew that date. It was burned into my memory. It was the day when I couldn’t take it anymore and I stumbled over to my journal and wrote the vow to love myself. September 24, 2011
I pulled out my journal, flipped to it, and there it was. I’d dated it. I held them side by side, showed it to her.
“What’s the odds,” I said out loud.
1 in 365, I know. Maybe. If you factor in years, then odds get higher. But still, this isn’t about statistics. Not for me. I’ve learned to expect magic. What’s behind the magic, what causes it, I have theories on it. And that’s all they are, theories. But the magic, that is real.
Photons collide in the atmosphere in their lazy trip from the sun, butterflies flutter their wings in Tokyo, causing a thunderstorm in Ohio. A man in New York City writes a book, which then gets published in Lexington, Kentucky, while at the same time, another man in San Francisco, unable to take any more misery makes a vow that changes everything, and months later the author meets him, bringing along that book as a gift and writes in it that it is the man’s turn to publish a book, and months later, the man does, and a month later, the man sees the same exact date on the back of the book.
He smiles, accepting it. Who knows how the whole thing works? But he knows that there is magic.
He sits and writes it down. Somewhere, a butterfly flutters its wings…