Do All Things Come to Those Who Wait?

You’re still waiting, aren’t you?

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Courtesy of Dreamstime

I’m just a lucky slob from Ohio who happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Clark Gable

The Tao (pronounced “dao”) has always fascinated me, in fact, anything that’s lasted longer than Seinfeld reruns fascinates me. The Tao has been around longer than The Bible, so that’s more than Seinfeld,Oprah and Days of Our Lives put together.

Lao Tzu, the philosopher credited with the Tao, had a thing about cogs (gears). Frankly, I didn’t even realize cogs had been invented back then. That’s the Chinese for you. Just when you think they couldn’t do any better than fireworks and spaghetti, they create cogs.

Anyway, Lao Tzu figured life is like a series of cogs. When things are good, they’re engaged. If things are bad, they don’t connect.

This is what’s known as having a “crappy day.”

We’ve all had crappy days. Who knew it was a mechanical issue? And obviously some people have more mechanical issues than others. As much as we want something, life’s natural order doesn’t always include us.

As he was the first to admit, “People come to see me because I know life is great and they know I know it.”

Clark Cable claimed he was lucky as hell. He couldn’t dance, he couldn’t sing, he could barely cry on cue. His gift was having cogs that seemed to be engaged all the time. As he was the first to admit, “People come to see me because I know life is great and they know I know it.”

Based on that, we’d all do better being like him.

He was obviously good with cogs.

The way Gable figured it ( since he didn’t read the Tao), he was destined to be in the right place at the right time. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak felt the same way. “We were around when the greatest invention on earth came along,” Jobs said, meaning computers. “How lucky is that?”

They were also around during The Cuban Missile Crisis.

How lucky was that?

Some people are the products of time and place. Take Tiny Tim. What other era would have allowed a warbling ukulele player with long hair? It had to be the 60s. Can you imagine Tiny Tim on America’s Got Talent today?

Let’s look at this philosophically, since The Tao is really about the universe and all the things — crappy or otherwise — that go on in the universe.

If life is all about timing, do we really have control? Think of the term “As luck would have it.” Is luck really deciding who gets what? And why a tone-deaf actor like Gable or a singer who plays the ukulele and warbles?

If auto-tone can make Madonna sound like a great singer, I’m sure we couldn’t butcher “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” any more than Tiny Tim did.

Why not give it to someone like us? We’re tone-deaf and can warble. If auto-tone can make Madonna sound like a great singer, I’m sure we couldn’t butcher “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” any more than Tiny Tim did.

On the other hand, what we think is bad luck might actually be good luck. Alfred Hitchcock said “I’m fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn’t make a good suspense film.”

Children’s book author Shel Silverstein saw timing as gravity. In his poem, “Trampoline,” two people are continually missing each other in mid air: “One was always goin’ up, while the other was comin’ down.”

It’s similar to what Lao Tzu was saying. Cogs and trampolines are like the whole cosmic setup of life. Time and place are important, but so’s coincidence. You can’t be in the wrong century, for instance. If Jobs and Wozniak had lived in 1728, an apple would have been, well, an apple.

As luck would have it, they were coming up with the Mac when people were coming down with a bad case of forgetfulness. The Mac solved information storage in a very compact way. With the advent of the laptop, you could sit at Starbucks and look like a writer. If you got frustrated, you could toss your laptop in the garbage and really look like a writer.

Yet that old saying “All things come to those wait” just isn’t our way of doing things. We’d rather bounce than be mindful.

“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out the window,” Wozniak said.

Lao Tzu wanted people to be mindful of expended energy. Silverstein figured we should stop bouncing. Yet that old saying “All things come to those who wait” just isn’t our way of doing things.

We’d rather bounce than be mindful.

We join dating sites that look like Cosco flyers. We buy stuff on line, find it’s the wrong size, then list it on Buy and Sell. We post pictures on Facebook, then get mad when someone says our dog isn’t a “cutie.”

Our whole chemical make-up seems to be geared to bouncing and letting our cogs spin like crazy whirligigs. The only reason computers have so much memory today is because our own memories suck.

Lucky people see opportunity. They look at the bigger picture, invent something, and become zillionaires.

We can’t remember if we have a “cutie” dog or not. If Benji takes off, we have to go on Facebook to get an accurate description of our own dog.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, wrote in The Telegram about his study of lucky and unlucky people. Lucky people see opportunity. They look at the bigger picture, invent something, and become zillionaires.

Unlucky people stare at their televisions. Eventually the reruns turn them into warbling idiots like Tiny Tim. They miss opportunities for the same reason Tiny Tim did. He irritated the hell out of us. Unlucky people irritate the hell out of us, too. We can’t believe they’re still watching Friends.

Wiseman created the “lucky school” where unlucky people are taught to think like lucky people. It consists of turning off the television and shoving them outside. Some come back enlightened, others get sun burns.

The takeaway is that our cogs will connect and disconnect whether we’re lucky or not. Everyone has good and bad days, which is why we should make the most of our bouncing — even if we end up warbling like Tiny Tim.

Lucky people figure it’s better to try something than sit around watching Friends. Luck is knowing when to stop idolizing sitcoms.

Luck and timing are more or less self-imposed. Too often we wait for luck to happen, figuring it gets delivered by a stork or a bonsai tree.

Lucky people figure it’s better to try something than sit around watching Friends. Luck is knowing when to stop idolizing sitcoms.

My favourite Silverstein poem describes two people who pass right by each other, despite being so well matched. She had blue skin, and so did he, He kept it hid, and so did she, They searched for blue their whole life through, Then passed right by — And never knew.

In other words, you can’t wait for luck — or anything — to come to you. As Wiseman noted in his study, “Unlucky people stare at one page whereas lucky people flip through finding new possibilities.”

It’s like the professor on Gilligan’s Island. Everyone’s carrying on their daily lives, trying to duplicate what they had before they got marooned. Only the professor keeps looking for a way off. Without him, they’d probably still be out there, trying to get a new sitcom, preferably out of the sun.

In a way, Gilligan’s Island is a parable of life. Either we learn to be like the professor, or we end up like Gilligan.

In a way, Gilligan’s Island is a parable of life. Either we learn to be like the professor, or we end up like Gilligan. All he does most days is fall in the lagoon or get hit on the head by a falling coconut.

It makes for great comedy, but it’s still stupid.

If you’re happy being stupid, watch Friends. If you want your luck to change, do something to change it, or at least watch The Nature of Things.

Mammals, birds, insects don’t just sit around twiddling their wings, feet or claws. They do something. Take a lesson from them.

And read the Tao. It’s better than all the sitcoms out there.

Robert Cormack is a novelist, humorist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Skyhorse Press or Simon & Schuster for more details.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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