One day you'll look back and when you see
where you were held...how...by this love.
While you could stand there
you could move on this moment...follow this feeling.
From "Mysterious Ways" by U2
Yesterday I went online to balance my checkbook and pay some bills. Before I got started, I opened a window for Pandora radio when, much to my surprise, the opening guitar riff from "Life in the Fast Lane" filled the office. I've been a fan of the Eagles since the late seventies, and lately this song in particular (well, at least the title) mirrors my life since early September.
Even though the weekend was incredibly busy with work, play, and everything in-between, I watched "The History of the Eagles", a documentary about the rise, disillusion, and rebirth of one of the most famous bands in America. To be honest, I watched it twice, then played the concert DVD in the background while I cleaned the house and did some baking. With every song, every lyric, I could clearly recall a moment from my past in which the Eagles was the band on the radio, on my record player, and years later, on the CDs I popped into the car stereo. Whenever I hear the guitar solo on "Hotel California", I'm taken back to a long-ago drive to South Carolina. When the strains of "Desperado" fill the air, I clearly remember my first solo apartment in Troy, Ohio where I spend a long, lonely year living alone among strangers. Back in 1994 when my life was falling apart, "Take it to the Limit" always seemed to be playing when I got in the car, walked in the door from a long day at work, or sat in the dark contemplating my next move.
Glenn Frey mentions in the documentary that people always told him they didn't just listen to the Eagles, the did things while the music blared on in the background. Be it a friends-only road trip or a break-up with a partner, quitting their job or landing a new vocation, tunes from the Eagles became the go-to soundtrack of their lives. I can certainly relate. After all, there's an homage to them in my first two novels...and the fact that one of the main characters thinks of "Take it to the Limit" as his signature song is no coincidence at all.
Not that I haven't had experiences which some people would label as twists of fate, or as my friend, Lisa, says happen "only in Katie's world."
Several years ago, my agent at the time had been pitching A Tapestry of Truth for nearly a year, but hadn't found the right editorial match. Even though I was disappointed by the rejections, they didn’t have the same punch as being dismissed for years by literary agents. At least I was having my work shown to publishing houses. At least I had that.
One day not long after my birthday, my agent sent emails from editors who praised my writing style, but had passed on the novel. It was heartening to read their positive comments and compliments...and worth all the years of waiting to be recognized for the time and energy I had put into honing my skills as a novelist...the years of rewrites and edits...all the late nights in my office...all the ink and paper that had gone into submissions.
Still, the whole process made me wonder if I needed to let go of my dream of publishing. By then I knew I wouldn’t have a child. I had all but given up on having a healthy relationship. Was I going to have to surrender this one, too?
Pondering this question while running errands, I had a quiet conversation with God. “I’ve worked my ass off for this, You know,” I said out loud. “I really want it. Am I ever going to get published?”
In that moment, I glanced to the right as a truck zoomed past. The speeding driver was halted at the next red light and as I rolled to a stop, I saw his license plate.
“NOT YET,” it said.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I laughed, “Well, thanks for that...at least it didn’t say, 'NO!'”
Six months later I made the difficult choice to sever the contract with my agent as three years had gone by and there had been no momentum with publishing houses. Yet I had energy to spare and spent the next year and a half self-publishing the backlog of books that had sat in my office for over a decade. Then, a year later, I embarked on the long and life-changing journey of writing The Lace Makers.
But not everything ran smoothly.
The printing house I had chosen sent the first batch of books without covers, and with every order that followed, some kind of erroneous glitch on their end left me waiting weeks for delivery, unsure if the books would arrive intact and as I had designed them. Communicating with the company was like walking through a labyrinth of ineptitude on my way to endless dead ends which left me frustrated and fit to be tied. While it was a joy to see my novels in print, it was a huge disappointment to work incredibly hard, yet be at the mercy of a company that lacked integrity and follow-through.
Time would prove that moving on would eventually lead to more auspicious new beginnings.
In "The History of the Eagles", Joe Walsh quotes a philosopher's ideology saying, "As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other. Later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel. But at the time...it don't."
I know all too well the mysterious ways that can implode a life, then miraculously bring it back from the ashes. And I can also recognize the endless signs along the way which reveal where I was held by love, by grace, and by a force I can't quite explain. There are no coincidences. In paying close attention to the what's happening in the present moment, I've learned that spirituality speaks most clearly to me through numbers, through nature, and through music. When I honor how the world I can't see communicates with me in languages I can understand, it's effortless to move on the moment and follow the guidance.
Most folks consider the number seven to be lucky, but for me three digits will trump that single one every time. Fifteen years ago, I noticed a pattern in which I'd glance at the clock when it was exactly 8:11. Day after day, month after month, my eyes were serendipitously drawn my watch or the DVD player or whatever device revealed those magical numbers. Soon license plates appeared everywhere with the numbers 811 in their configuration and even the ledger in my bank account revealed the digits, although often with a decimal point in-between. I didn't take it as a sign of foreboding, just a wink from the universe letting me know I'm right on time for whatever was happening in the moment.
Once I traveled to the Lion's stadium in Detroit where I sat with a friend watching her son play football in an after-season bowl game. It had been a tense fourth quarter when I glanced at the scoreboard and realized the clock had stopped with eight minutes, eleven seconds remaining.
"Oh, something good is about to happen," I said to Jan.
"How do you know that?"
"I just do...watch this play."
And sure enough, within a minute, Jan's son made a game-changing defensive move that turned the tide and led his team to victory.
Nowadays I don't always experience that kind of outward validation of my intuition. It's more private, yet infinitely more powerful.
This past summer I changed printing companies and waited on tenterhooks for the first shipment. I was completely reassured with the UPS man showed up on my doorstep earlier than expected...and with boxes on which someone had printed 811-7 in big bold numbers. The following morning, while updating my blogger page, I saw that the official number of people reading my posts that week was 811. Just yesterday when I balanced my checkbook, the number 811 showed up among the totals.
Jupiter went into Virgo on 8/11 this year and what a grand surprise that turned out to be. As the harbinger of good luck, expansion, and all things "living large", having the red planet in my sign for the next year is an incredible boon. Having it show up on 8/11 only makes me pay more attention to the energy behind the forward momentum. Perhaps that's why my life has taken off like a shot...or a cannon as my friend, Barb, would say.
Last Monday I was scheduled to pick up a new lease vehicle that has a digital stereo system, so I loaded an MP3 player with the Eagles oldies but goodies, some new stuff, and a few of Don Henley's greatest hits. I made sure to also upload a copy of U2's "Mysterious Ways", as it's the only song I can listen to every day, every hour without ever tiring of it. The lyrics remind me of my uncommon life lived outside the box of convention in which I've learned to trust things I can't explain...and that in order to kiss the sky, I first need to kneel on the ground.
Plus, it has a killer opening riff.
Alas, on my way to the dealership, I realized the MP3 player had been left behind in my office. Oh, well, I thought. I can always bring it along for the next ride. Moments later, when I pulled out on the very same stretch of highway where six years earlier my ramshackle Pontiac had been t-boned by an SUV, I turned on the radio and what do you know? A classic rock station was blasting "Life in the Fast Lane".
Smiling to myself, I silently thanked the not-so-mysterious forces which have benevolently brought me far from where I've been, revealed countless blessings along the way...and provided an awesome soundtrack that never ceases to inspire me.