The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased
as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor
and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris,
author of My
Wife and Times. —Ed].
Cast your web into the net
By Daniel Will Harris
You know how sometimes you just wake up with an idea your
head? That just happened to me. I realized that I would not
have been writing this to you today if a lot of things hadn't
gone wrong in the past. These were things that seemed bad
at the time, but eventually proved to be blessings in disguise.
For example, I wouldn't be writing this now, or editing eFuse.com
if, eight years ago, someone hadn't stolen a big chunk of
a book I wrote, and put it in a major magazine. At the time
it seemed like a disaster, but it really started a string
of good events.
I started to think about all the things that led me to where
I am today. Being petrified to go away to the school that
accepted me in New York led to meeting my first (and hopefully
only) wife. I also wouldn't have met her if her mother hadn't
pretended to be sick so she wouldn't leave school and go to
Europe as she'd planned (something she wasn't happy about
at the time, but if she'd gone, we might never have met).
Living in a bad apartment building and picking up a postcard
on the dirty elevator floor led to meeting life long friends.
Being too lazy to take a "real" job led to my getting
a part in a movie.
Not being able to afford something that cost $100 led to
a job where I started writing about computers and I met a
fellow writer who's one of my best friends.
Fighting with a PR person who said no one on earth would
ever want a laser printer led me to use the seventh LaserJet
ever made, and to immediately see the future of desktop publishing.
Having a bi-polar boss who liked to scream at his employees
and make them take lie detector tests led to my quitting to
write my first book.
Having a publisher who "forgot" to pay me my royalties
led me to finding a better publisher and publish the first
book about desktop publishing with a word processing program
which led to my being able to escape from L.A.
More unfortunate incidents with publishers led me to build
my own web site, when the web was young. That plagiarism thing
led to my meeting an editor, and writing for c|net when it
started. Having to endure later editors there who seemed unable
to read more than 150 words at a time led me to abandon my
biggest source of income, which led to the wonderful chance
to do what I'm typing right now. I get to write and edit articles
and exchange e-mail with interesting people like you all over
the world (and even meet some of them). And If my computer
hadn't had a particularly bad crash, I wouldn't have started
writing these personal intros.
Finally, if I hadn't almost died a few years ago, I might
not appreciate everything as much as I do now.
This is how life works—so when we make friends, fall
in love or get a great job, it's either an amazing stroke
of luck, or part of some plan far too complicated for any
of us to understand, much less really control.
And while I sometimes look back and wonder about the road
I didn't take, I remember that I my own plans turned out far
different (for the better) than I imagined. So my dreams of
what might have been might have turned out far different,
too, and perhaps for the worse.
Anne Lamott summed it up with a story in her book, "Crooked
"Long ago, there was a farmer who lived in China. One
day, several wild horses crashed through the gates of his
farm, causing a great deal of damage. "Oh no!" cried
the neighbors, "This is terrible news!" The old
farmer shrugged, "Bad news, good news—who knows?"
The next day, the horses came back and the farmer's twenty-year-old-son
managed to capture one. All the neighbors ran over to admire
it, "Oh, how wonderful!" they cried, "What
good news!" "Good news, bad news—who knows?"
shrugged the farmer.
Several days later, the farmer's son, attempting to break
the steed, was thrown and his leg badly broken. The neighbors
rushed over, peering at the young man in bed, "Oh, this
is awful news!" they cried. The farmer shrugged, "Good
news, bad news, who knows?"
A few weeks later, the Chinese army came by, conscripting
all the area's young men for war raging in the south. They
couldn't take the young man with the broken leg... "
You just never know. So cast your net out into the web (or
your web out into the net) and try to enjoy whatever catch
you reel in. You never know where it might lead.