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At Home and In Paris

Updated: Nov 17, 2022


I Was Encouraged...

After reading my first attempt at writing something 'for no particular reason', I was encouraged to keep on writing by Mark Greenside, an author/colleague whom I greatly admire. But he also cautioned me that, “Nobody wants to read how your life is better than theirs, or at least they won’t want to read for very long"

I gave his words some thought with a mixture of hope and hurt. Would people want to know about my troubles? Would it make them feel better reading my experiences in the darkness of these days instead of what might be the light at the end of the tunnel? Or perhaps they may wish to read stories about real life, a mélange of both heaven and hell?.

I recalled the first time I wrote a paper when still in my psychoanalytic training. I planned to submit it for publication. Without reading it, a senior colleague said, “Don’t bother. Your paper won’t be accepted.” At first I stuffed the paper in a drawer, trying to put my dreams out of sight and my disillusionment out of mind. But a few months later, I took it back out of the drawer, polished it once again, and sent it off to the most prestigious journal in my field. Three months later, my paper was sadly if tactfully rejected by the editors.

I cried until I was suddenly reminded of a time in the late sixties when I took to selling real estate to earn enough for my college tuition. At that time, I happened upon a motivational lecture for folks like me; newbies in a vibrant market amongst all those old pros, just trying to make a buck, met with nothing but rejection in a field for which I had no roadmap in my late teens.

The speaker was a young man no more than ten years my senior named Tommy Hopkins. I was in awe of how he could go before an audience of over 300 people and speak extemporaneously about his life in Real Estate sales. He’d started right after High School with nearly no capital. He didn’t even have a suit to wear, the traditional dress for success in the field at that time. He had no automobile in a suburban community with no public transportation. So, he decided to specialize in listing properties for sale in his immediate area. He wore his old school band uniform without the hat, the closest thing he had to the ‘proper’ attire.

Of course, the image of this young kid, without knowhow, cold-canvassing the neighborhood for exclusive listings dressed like a drum major tickled the entire audience. I noticed that the crowd was laughing, not at him but with him. “I walked up to the first front door, rang the bell, and was greeted by a middle-aged woman with a scowl on her face. She said, “What do you want?” in a tone that spoke to how much she didn’t want to know. I told her anyway, in a mousey, insecure voice, and she responded by slamming the door in my face.”

I observed Hopkins as he strolled the stage and, suddenly pointing skyward, seemed to have received inspiration and courage from the Almighty himself. He continued his story, the audience leaning forward in unison.

“So, I walked around the house to the back door, and I knocked, at first politely and then with more vigor. The same woman with the identical scowl on her crinkled face came to the door, but before she could utter a word, I said, "Golly gee. Am I happy to see you!"

The woman cracked a smile, so I explained, "That other woman who answered the front door wasn’t nearly so happy to see me. She must have been having a really bad day!”

The audience roared with laughter as Hopkins’ story ended with a surprising invitation to join the woman in her kitchen for coffee and a piece of the homemade layer cake that she’d just baked, a serious chat about the benefits of putting her home on the market at the time, and her signature on a 90-day contract for the sale of her house. Of course that was not the first time I remembered that day with Tommy Hopkins over the years. He was wholly responsible for my success in real estate sales and taught me about the importance of audacity, humor, insight, and tenacity in all areas of living.

As you probably know, I too knocked on the back door repeatedly, re-writing and publishing that first paper and many others afterward with no small success. And in spite of disappointment stirred up in me by those who were gobbled up by the ‘green-eyed monster,’ in those many days and long ago, there were so many more who were inspired to keep on going on the path toward the realization of their own dreams. Now, you are the folks who continue to inspire me to share my stories in this 'whatever-you-wish-to-call it'.

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