No one can possibly dislike me as much as I don't care.
I decide what "success" and "failure" mean.
Pursue my goals like Liam Neeson from Taken.
(For that last line, feel free to insert your personal favorite heroic figure. The point is you must pursue your goals like an unstoppable, bad-ass force of nature.)
I was sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for him to come in after my initial physical exam with the nurse. This part always made me feel nervous, just waiting, wondering what might be wrong, what might be revealed by my blood work. Eventually the doctor walked in beaming ear to ear. “You, my friend, are in for some good news!”
I didn’t say anything. I thought: just let this be over, don’t make me ask, just tell me what is going on. The doctor still didn’t say anything, so I obliged him. “What’s going on with me, Doc?”
“Have you travelled to any foreign countries recently? Interacted with anyone that you wouldn’t interact with normally?”
Nothing came to mind, so I just shook my head.
“No magical beings? Miraculous events? Bites from radioactive animals? Prophecies?”
“Not to my knowledge,” I replied.
The Doctor looked at his clipboard. “Well, we have your results back. You have infinite wishes.”
“Inifinite wishes, you can wish for whatever your want, as many times as you want, and your wishes will be granted. As of now, we are not sure how this happened. That’s why I’m asking you if anything out of the ordinary has happened recently.”
It all came flooding back to me. I was blackout drunk at a yard sale, at least I thought it was a yard sale. I found a dirty old lamp, so I rubbed it. I met the seller who said his name was John or Jean, or something like that. He started saying I could have three things, and three things only, so I just beligerently slurred at him: "YOU'LL GIVE ME EVERYTHING I WANT, BLUE BOY!"
"This is really something, pal" the doctor reitereated. "So, what will you wish for first?"
I knew I didn't deserve this power, no one did. I shouldn't just be a selfish jerk like I was at the yard sale. I should try to help people. I blurted out, "I wish everyone was happy and healthy."
"WOAH! What the hell are you doing?!"
I was confused by my doctor suddenly seeming so aggitated and amused at the same time. This was not helping my dislike for doctor's visits.
"What? What's wrong? I just want everyone to be happy and healthy."
"Firstly, I'm a doctor, you never want me to work again? If you're going to take away my livelihood, at least take me out to dinner or kiss me first. Secondly, you want "everyone" to be happy and healthy? There are now millions of people across the planet burried underground who have just come back to life and have no way to dig themselves out! You have just sentenced millions of people to happily suffocate in the dark... after already dying once! I'm happier than I've ever been, but I strongly recommend you be more specific."
"NO!" I screamed, "I wish everyone underground was above ground!" Just then, I heard a crash. I opened the door and saw an entire subway train had crashed through the waiting room. No one was hurt though, and everyone seemed to be smiling and having a good time.
"This is disasterous, but I really don't want this to end!" My doctor exclaimed.
I needed to calm down and think more carefully. "I wish I had two fingers of sco- I mean, I wish I had a glass, on the table in front of me, that had two shots of good scotch in it with one icecube." I grabbed the scotch almost as fast as it manifested itself, and slugged it back. "Ok... now, think damn it... think!"
"You may want to keep track of how many units of alcohol you're having a week, as your behavior seems to be indicative of alcohol dependence, but you do YOU buddy!" my doctor said as he reclined in his chair.
All the power in the world, nothing but possibilities, each one with its own devastating consequences, and all at my fingertips. All I had to do was open my mouth, and anything I ever wanted could be mine. At the same time, opening my mouth could literally destroy the world. There was only one option that made sense. "I'm gonna need more scotch..."
Sincerely, Your Favorite Author
So I had been trying to get my work published for a long time. I write novels that fall into the genre of fiction (mostly), thrillers, and mystery, but I always keep it fresh and mix in elements of romance, horror and self-help. I decided to go the self-publishing route, because it made the most sense to me. None of the publishers out there really understood how different and iconic my work is, and why should I have to share any of the profits with them anyway?
I set up wifi in my isolated cabin in the woods, bought a phone, published my work on Amazon and sat next to my phone, just waiting for the phone calls to start coming in. Publishers calling to tell me what a mistake they made, news outlets falling over themselves to have me on to discuss my book, colleges extending me honorary degrees for delivering lectures on my work and my contributions to literature. A week went by, two weeks, a month, 6 months, I lost count. Sitting by my phone and laptop, just waiting for some form of communication from the outside world. I began to despair. Am I to be like Van Gogh? Poe? Kafka? Fated to live in obscurity and perish, only to be surpassed by my memory? Museums and libraries chasing down my manuscripts that were not worth a single cent to them while I was alive (and in debt due to paying Verizon to extend wifi to my isolated cabin). That was until... I received a notification.
I received an electronic email stating that someone had ordered a copy of my book. Someone by the name of BKfan69. A pseudonym, no doubt. Who could this mystery fan be? He or she had to have a mind like my own, a fellow genius, who could understand the weight behind my novel's title ("The Cabin Dweller's Hand Maiden"). I felt like a survivor on a desert island, marooned without campionship, finally spotting a giant yacht on the horizon. Every word I have written, every rejection letter received, every job I've been fired from for creating a hostile work environment, was suddenly not only worth it, but somehow destined.
I knew one thing, and one thing only: I had to hand deliver my book to this mystery fan, my beloved reader. Imagine the surpise on his visage upon hearing the doorbel ring and opening the door, only to see the great author in front of him, extending his work to him like God extending his finger to Adam in the Sistine Chapel. Better yet, I could let myself in, and surprise him when he comes home. How greatful would he be for the privilege of a lifetime? I felt I owed it to him. He would be among the first of my flock, like a literary apostle. I could also stay with him, and use his couch as a base of operations since they turned the water off to my cabin.
Working dilligently, I immediately went about trying to discover my mystery fan's identity. Amazon has put up a few obstacles to keep sellers from discovering the identities of buyers, but I would not let Jeff Bezos stop me. I went on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It was like searching for a needle disguised as a straw of hay in a stack of other needles disguised as straws of hay. How was I to cut through the anonymity of this blasted internet and be united with my twin in mind and spirit?
I went to a coffee shop and began sobbing, deeply. The baristas and customers could not ignore my cries. Eventually, a teenage girl came up to me, like an angel delivered from the heavens to answer my prayer. "What's wrong?" she asked. I used my imagination and gift for story telling, and I told her a noble lie, for it was the only way that the greater good could be achieved. "This guy who bought your book, he really said such racist and bigotted things to you? And you just had to sit there, and take it while Amazon did nothing to address his behavior? I'm not going to stand for that. I got you, I know how to find this nasty piece of work! TikTok will know what to do!"
I ceased my crying. I did not know this "TikTok," but, somehow, I knew everything would work out just as I wanted it to... I knew you would end up reading these words. I am in your home and I am ready to meet you. Now turn around.
Your favorite author
We all eventually become the right person at the wrong time... There are plenty of things I wish I could have done differently in the past. Sure, if I could go back, I would make better choices (knowing what I know now), but that version of myself from the past would probably always make the same mistakes. Whether it’s knowing the right thing to do, having the perfect words for the moment, or seizing an opportunity that rarely comes along in a lifetime. Sometimes we get it right, and we truly are the right person at the right time. Occasionally, we really mess things up and we feel the sting of being the wrong person at the wrong time. What I find curious is this: Given what I have said, would you rather be the right person at the wrong time, or the wrong person at the right time? Both seem tragic.