Nothing will draw an individual to religion faster than a personal crisis. After I’d quit my job and my husband subsequently lost his, we headed straight for church. That wasn’t our first time to enter through those doors. However, we hadn’t been too diligent about prior attendance.
A few months earlier, I had made a prayerful deal with God. “I’ll write, as long as you handle the bills,” I’d offered. Until that moment, He’d been upholding His end of the bargain…and I had complied with mine. Now I viewed my spouse’s job loss as a sign that it was time for me to do something different.
On our way through the church foyer, we passed by the on-site bookstore. Pointing to a display window where an author’s books were featured, my husband stopped and asked, “Ever read this guy?”
I noted the name. “No, I haven’t.”
“Might be good.”
“I don’t need another self-help book to tell me how to live my life,” I snapped.
Hubby gave me a polite smile. “Mind if I step inside for a bit, just to take a quick look?”
I nodded. “I’ll wait out here,” I said, indicating the hallway. At a minimum, I hoped to avoid spending our grocery dollars on something we couldn’t eat.
My spouse, though, had other ideas. He returned with a bagful of books written by the late Og Mandino, aka “Mr. Success.” It seemed my cohort had already done the damage. So there was nothing left for me to do but read.
Among the paperbacks my man had purchased, I found a scant-size book with a purple-colored cover, titled The Choice. Well, given my current predicament, the name certainly seemed appropriate.
A few pages into the book, I realized The Choice fell under the inspirational fiction category, a genre I seldom read. And I soon discovered this work concerned the life of a writer as much as it addressed metaphysical questions.
On page twenty-seven, I read the following:
“Writing, I am convinced, is the least appreciated of all the creative arts. Only a miniscule portion of the population engages in sculpting or painting or composing but everyone writes—whether letters, invitations, shopping lists, or even just a signature on a check. It is not farfetched, therefore, for anyone with a smattering of self-esteem to believe that if he or she had the time, and the desire, an acceptable book or article could be produced.”
I digested that paragraph. (So, in a metaphorical way, maybe I did eat it.)
What in the world had I been thinking when I’d quit my job to become an author? I must have been every bit as delusional as the next grandiose-thinking, wannabe writer.
As it turned out, I’d been operating from a place where logic had no value, where faith trumped statistics, where dreams held the power to transmute reality, in much the same manner as had Mandino’s protagonist, Mark Christopher. A highly successful regional manager of the fictional Treasury Insurance Company, Mark resigned from his position to write a book titled A Better Way to Live.
As exuberant readers often do, I had little more than finished the book before I’d fired off a four-page letter to Og Mandino. In that correspondence, I told him all about my vacation experience and The Voice I’d heard, confessed that I’d quit my job, and asked if he would read my manuscript when it was completed!
IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE DISDAINFULLY IGNORED, REGARDED AS ARROGANT, OR QUITE POSSIBLY GOVERNED BY A RESTRAINING ORDER.
Yes, I now realize how selfish and foolish my request must have appeared, and I am eternally embarrassed to have made it. Nonetheless, Mr. Mandino, being the outstanding man that he was, took the time to write a personal reply. His letter, pecked out on a typewriter, concluded with a simple question, one that has drummed through my brain ever since I read it; “How can you ignore that voice?”
Truth be told, I couldn’t disregard the message I’d been given. But I’ve been known to be extremely slow at following orders.
I filed away Mr. Mandino’s letter…yet, every once in a while, when anxiety crept in and doubts hung over me, I looked back at his words for inspiration.
“How can you ignore that voice?”
Og Mandino passed away in 1996. His many best-selling books remain available today, and I have read and heartily recommend them all.* To learn more about Og Mandino, his life and his work, please visit www.ogmandino.com. Dave Blanchard, the CEO of The Og Mandino Group, just released his new book, Today I Begin a New Life. It is time to learn how to create in spite of the firestorms of life.
* I received no compensation of any kind (other than joy) for sharing information about the great author Og Mandino. His letter to me and the book quotes in this blog post have been reprinted with permission.