It was fortunate that I was walking that day with a defeated posture. Had I been looking up instead of down, I probably would have walked past it, dismissing it as so many had me, as it crunched, unnoticed and unappreciated, under the heel of my shoe. There I was, head down, eyes averted in every effort to avoid human contact, lurching through the park on my way home from yet another devastating job interview- and there it was, shining benignly up at me, faded black leather with a ringed binding.
Why I chose to bend down and pick up this beaten and battered little notebook I cannot tell you. Perhaps I identified- someone had once loved it intensely, and then thrown it away. It had clearly been through much, and yet still it sat, bruised but not broken. I retired to a park bench and cracked its dusty binding, expecting to find words scribbled in haste, perhaps some tear or nicotine stains. Instead, a pristine white canvas winked up at me.
As I stared down at the blank slate before me, I was seized by the sudden urge to write. I reached into my pocket and extracted a pen, and after a pause I scribbled, I don’t know what I am going to do.
Before I could elaborate, I was amazed to see my words fading away, as though swallowed up by the paper itself. New words instantly formed in their place: What would you like to do?
I gazed around me suspiciously, half expecting to see a camera crew hiding in the bushes. Nothing. Just the typical assortment of stragglers, wandering through the park, oblivious to my existence. How curious, I thought. Perhaps this was all a dream, and I hadn’t flubbed my job interview after all!
I returned my gaze to the notebook, blank and unblemished once more. I would like to be able to pay my bills, I wrote back. That would be a good start.
Look under your seat.
It seemed a stretch, but I was, after all, talking to a notebook. So I leaned down and looked underneath the park bench. A paper bag was sitting innocuously in the dew-soaked grass. I picked it up, and gasped audibly as I peeked inside. The bag was filled to the brim with crisp hundred dollar bills!
I closed the bag immediately and stuffed it into my pocket, glancing around in what I hoped was an inconspicuous manner. My act was lost on the crowd, none of whom seemed to be the least bit concerned with my antics.
I picked the notebook up again and wrote, How did you do that?
Magic is all around, for those who believe.
How much money is in the bag? I asked, heart pounding louder than the jogger now thundering past.
Seized by a moment of greed, I then asked, Can I have more?
Will this pay your bills?
Yes, I responded reluctantly. Something told me that it was a rhetorical question.
Then don’t be greedy.
What is the catch? I wrote next, eyes narrowing.
Pay it forward by giving me to the next stranger you meet.
But I’ve only had one wish! I replied, seized with panic at the thought of relinquishing it so soon.
Magic is all around, for those who believe.
You said that already, I wrote back, becoming irritated.
Do you believe?
I reached into my pocket and squeezed the paper bag full of cash.
I’m starting to, I wrote back.
Then you needn’t worry.
I’m not sure I understand.
You are the magic that you seek.
Are you saying that I can manifest my own wishes? I asked, doubtful despite the already miraculous nature of this exchange.
You have been all along. You were simply unaware of your own power.
I’m broke, miserable and alone, I responded, feeling irritated once more.
So are you saying that those were my wishes? I asked.
I placed the tip of the pen to the paper, ready to object, and then paused. Were those my wishes? Did I WANT to be miserable and alone? Why would I want that? Why would anyone?
I don’t know, I replied finally. I shouldn’t think so!
Why would you want to be alone?
I shrugged and reconsidered the question.
It’s safer that way, I suppose, I replied after a moment.
Why is it safer that way?
Because then I won’t get hurt.
Do you believe that people are going to hurt you?
What you believe is what you create.
So you’re telling me the fact that people hurt me is my fault? I asked, offended.
Yes, and no.
I lowered the pen to write some choice words, but before I could begin, the notebook continued.
You didn’t know that you had this power before, and so it worked against you. Now that you do, you can make it work for you.
Ok, I responded, my intrigue winning out over my pride. How?
What if you expected the best instead of the worst?
I shook my head and frowned. You are telling me that if I expect good things they will happen. So simply. Just like that.
That has not been my experience.
I snorted, and a woman pulled her coat closer to her body as she passed me, giving me the type of glance that is normally reserved for the homeless and mentally insane. She was perhaps not far off the mark, I thought in amusement as I returned to my riveting conversation with an inanimate object.
Good things don’t happen to me, I replied.
Do you expect them to?
Well, no. Because they never have.
A good thing has never happened to you?
More bad things happen than good.
But good things have happened.
Now and then, I replied grudgingly.
Which do you focus on? The good or the bad?
I shrugged. The bad, I suppose.
And so that is what you get more of.
But why? I asked.
We draw what we focus on into our reality, regardless of intent.
I laughed. I think about money all the time, and I’m still broke.
Do you think about being wealthy, or do you think about being poor?
I see what you did there, I replied.
Good. Now you’re beginning to get it.
So if I think about being rich, I will be rich.
What else do I have to do?
You have to believe, and you have to take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
Believe in what?
Believe in good, expect good, do good, know that good things are possible for you, and good will be returned.
That’s it? That’s the secret to life?
Life keeps no secrets. It is just up to us to pay attention to what we are being shown.
But how do I come to believe?? I wrote desperately. It seems a bit of a stretch to get from here to there.
Are you or are you not talking to a notebook?
What’s your point? I replied.
If this is possible, surely happiness and wealth are possible for you.
I suppose I can’t argue with that logic, I agreed.
Write down everything that you want out of life. Then believe that it is yours, FEEL that it is yours, hold it in your heart as you give thanks, and release your desires to the Universe. Pay attention to the signs, synchronicities and opportunities that present themselves to you. This is how your wishes manifest.
And then what? I asked.
Pass me on to someone new.
And so I wrote. I wrote down everything that I longed for, that I had until now believed was beyond my grasp. I poured my soul into that little notebook, and when I was finished, I wrote two final words:
I sat for some time, and nobody new walked by. Just before I was ready to give up and either make my way home or to the nearest psychiatric ward, I spotted an elderly woman making her way down the sidewalk, moving slowly and carefully in my direction.
I stood up and walked toward her, and she recoiled slightly as I approached.
I held out the notebook.
“This is for you.”
The woman gazed at me suspiciously. “What do I want with an old, used notebook?”
I smiled. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. This little old notebook just saved my life.”
The woman laughed, throaty and deep. “I could use a little of that, I suppose.”
“Couldn’t we all,” I replied with a grin.
“What do you want in return?” she asked.
“In giving this to you, I have already received it.”
The old woman smiled suddenly, revealing yellowing teeth and lines that showed that she had once smiled often. She reached out and took the notebook. “Well, I asked God earlier for a sign. I don’t know if this is it or not, but it is too strange to be coincidence.”
I laughed. “I’m beginning to think that there is no such thing.”
A sense of elation unlike anything I had ever felt came over me, and I found myself beginning to skip as I made my way home. Suddenly the same world that had felt so cold and foreboding only hours earlier felt fresh, new, and full of possibility. I held my head high, and smiled at every stranger that I passed on my merry way. To my pleasure and surprise, they all smiled back.
I awoke to the bleating of my alarm. As consciousness returned to me, I felt an instant pang of disappointment. Had that all just been a dream? I swung my arm out and hit the snooze button, as I had done so many mornings before. Resignedly, I rolled over and closed my eyes. If it was a dream, perhaps it wasn’t too late to settle back in.
I reached my arm under my pillow, and felt the crunchy roughness of crisp recycled paper. My eyes flew open. I flung away the pillow, and sure enough, the paper bag was lying underneath. I ripped it open, and sure enough, inside sat a neat pile of cash. A note floated out from amidst the dead Presidents, in that now familiar black scrawl:
It is all real. And it is all a dream.