As near as I can tell, my first book, Stumbling Toward the Buddha, began writing itself the year my father became a writing teacher. Over twenty-five years, Dad published five books and taught writing to 5,000 students.
Meanwhile, I was busy failing at every job I tried.
When I was fifty, I joined a meditation group and, every once in a while, contributed an essay to their newsletter. That spiritual stuff must have worked, because at age fifty-five, I finally found a career I loved. Patient advocate at a hospital. When patients grew anxious about their care, the nurses called me in to calm things down. It was the perfect job for a meditator. My boss told me I was the best patient advocate in the history of patients. Being spiritual, I thought I was living my truth. I was called to do this.
But after a year, the same boss called me into his office, closed the door, and told me I was doing such a piss poor job he suspected I had lied on my resume. The shock was like the power going out while you’re watching a really great movie.
When the power returned, my operating system rebooted. I resigned.
Highfalutin principle #1 exploded in my face: When you’re living your truth, you’ll love what you’re doing; you’ll feel like you’ve been called. That job was in the way—the book that wrote itself needed my full-time attention.
The book even started working on my husband. While he was perusing the shelves of a library, a brochure for a writers conference fell out of a book and dropped on his foot. Even though we definitely could not afford it, he insisted I attend. I registered for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, where my father had taught for twenty-five years until he died.
Dad had been gone for a decade, but his students’ memories of him were still fresh. “Your dad told me to write outrageously.” “Your dad told me to take a risk with my writing.” “If it wasn’t for your dad, I wouldn’t be a published author.” Every day for a week, an author wrapped me in a bear hug and quoted my father.
The book that wrote itself gave me writing lessons from Dad.
The book also let me in on a secret: those spiritual essays were a book, Stumbling Toward the Buddha. I re-wrote, polished, organized, re-wrote again, and emailed the manuscript to a developmental editor, to find out if it had any potential.
She said, “Beautiful memoir.”
I said, “No. It’s a collection of essays. They’re spiritual.”
She said, “It’s a memoir.”
While I had been composing lofty metaphysical essays, the book that wrote itself had written a memoir.
I will tell the folks in Branson how Stumbling Toward the Buddha disproved so many other things I believed:
Rejection is bad; the universe wants me to feel accepted.
I should transcend my personal story.
I should judge people by their actions.
Spirituality will lead me to the Truth.
I want the folks in Branson to see themselves in my story. That twenty-five years of failing at every job was not about failing at all. That’s just the way it looks when your life is writing itself.
Sunday, March 19 10:30 AM
Unity of the Hills
4686 Highway 248
Branson MO 65616
Super Recording Session
Mama's Eyes Were Green
Christmas by Myself