Years ago, I attended a "Positive Energy" rally. Boy, was I pumped up! I couldn't wait to tell my wife about it. "Wow, honey, that was incredible!" They explained how Positive Energy is really just Positive Thinking with a new age spin! That made so much sense to me. Then Norman Vincent Peale and Paul Harvey arrived and…"
"I thought Norman Vincent Peale was, you know, dead?", she said, introducing a bit of negative energy into the conversation.
"That's what I thought, too", I said. "but death is not life's Final Answer, to quote the great Regis Philbin. Let me tell you the Rest of the Story." I was somewhat on a roll with my clever references.
"We all joined hands, chanted, and sent vibes to the spirit of Dr. Peale, and he appeared right in front of us. Then Paul Harvey came, as a sort of bonus. It was awesome! That's why they had to charge so much for the conference. In today's dollars, Dr. Peale and Paul Harvey aren't cheap! So much is coming together for me…"
"You have been drinking again."
"I am taking care of me, now. I no longer conceive of myself as a drinking person. You will be excited to know that I am now quite the lover, wait until you see…"
First Norman Vincent Peale, now this. My wife was now visibly concerned. "I'll make another appointment for you with the therapist. In the meantime, there's a little thing we have to, you know, meditate about. The water heater broke and the basement is flooded."
I had a brief negative thought about being a bad writer and depending on writing for a living, and how much was this going to cost and… but…I just let it go.
"No problem, I said with a smile. Let's join hands and look at the Bright Side." For the next couple of minutes you could have heard a pin drop.
"Ahhh," I said, breaking the awkward silence, "the Universe has granted the answer to our question. Although we know that the Bright Side exists, we just don't know what it is yet. As Wayne Dyer would say, it hasn't shown up yet."
"Perhaps it got delayed in traffic." she said, not helping.
Refusing to let this negative thinking bother me, I had a scotch on the rocks and went to bed.
There was one guy at the rally, though, who was very deeply affected by it - Herbie. Herbie was one of the pimpliest guys I ever knew in high school, and he still had an amazing amount of pimples for his age. He goes by Herbert now.
"Ken", he said, "I'm shaking off the chains of the past. I've decided to run for President."
"President of What?" I asked.
"President of the United States," of course. "This country needs to lighten up." I will announce my candidacy on that humor magazine, The Spoof. There I will expound on my views and address the serious issues facing our country. I have announced a kick-off rally at the Town Hall. You are the first to be invited."
Uh, The Spoof is not exactly the New York Times, I thought to myself. I had never heard of it. But I didn't want to bring Herbie down. "Herbert, I hate block your good energy," I said, "but you don't have any money , backing or constituency. How are you…"
"If you can conceive and and believe it, you can achieve it. Stated in more modern terms, toss your wishes out to the Universe, and what you need will just show up. Joel Osteen got a new car that way. It works for God, too. Didn't you learn anything last night?"
"Uh, sorry, Herbie. I mean Herbert." He doesn't like it when you call him Herbie. I had to admit I was spellbound. The energy of the Universe was flowing through him, I could see that.
When I arrived at the town hall that night, I counted ten, maybe twelve people in the audience. The empty seats were kind of embarrassing, but I didn't say anything. As luck would have it, Herbie's dad couldn't make it, due to a standing poker game. All of my friends were there, however. Herbie gave a rousing speech.
The applause wasn't deafening, but it wasn't bad for a dozen people. After the speech he came right over to me. I was flattered.
"Great speech," I said. "You really know how to work a crowd."
"This thing is going to snowball, I just know it is," Herbie said, making a sweeping gesture toward the empty seats.
On the way home from the rally, I couldn't help thinking that Herbie had the 'right stuff'. I couldn't wait to write to Oprah about him. He got at least one vote, because I wrote him in.