My Daily Walk – Happy Accidents
My Daily Walk is a podcast with a Holywood personality who records a podcast when he goes for a walk. Happy Accidents, I know happy accidents, what I’m defining as happy accidents happen all day, every day to every one of us, all day, every day to one one of us. People call them coincidences.
$2, that’s all it cost. $2. What, you may ask? Louisiana. No, not the state … Well, yes, the entire state of Louisiana cost only $2. No, actually it was the Louisiana Purchase. That included not just Louisiana, but, I don’t know, seven to 10 entire states, or the territory that became states. $2.
Good morning and welcome to my daily walk, the daily topical half-hour podcast by some Hollywood guy, some anonymous Hollywood guy who wanders around talking about anything and everything, except the things he’s contractually obligated to conceal. Yeah, I’m still working on that line. It’s long. It’s cumbersome. Maybe I need to break it into a couple sentences or, I don’t know. We’ll see. Welcome, anyway, to my daily walk and that intro.
All right. One of the features I want to, a sudden silence in vehicle engines, one of the features I do want to, well, maybe I am contemplating initiating on this podcast is “name that engine.” It would take probably quite a while to get enough listenership to attract those few experts in engine sounds. And they’re out there. There are people, I think I’ve mentioned this in the past, but people that could identify automobile engines. That one actually should be pretty easy for a lot of people if you heard it clearly. Okay. Already on a tangent, already lost. No.
So that topical intro actually just occurred to me within minutes before heading out on today’s recording session. But I want to review this week, and some observations and some ideas I’m having. And if you’re tuning out already, I don’t blame you because I sound like I’m distracted and meandering, but such is life with an extemporaneous daily podcast that goes completely unedited. I don’t even listen back to these. I don’t play them back and say, “Ooh.” I’m recording them, putting them out there unedited, trusting the words coming out of my mouth, whether they’re interesting or not, at least they’re not implicating me, or I’m not violating any of the contracts that I am beholden to.
So I’ve been thinking, and the first two podcasts this week, yesterday and Monday, were a little bit rambling even though I did stick to a topic, kind of a similar topic for both of them. Monday was about the meanings of words, how do words acquire meaning, how they enter the dictionary? How can you actually destroy the meaning of a word or render it obsolete, or irrelevant, or non-applicable? Sorry. And then yesterday, Tuesday, talked about … What did I talk about yesterday? Oh, well, what I just said. I blended Monday and Tuesday together, and let’s move on.
So today, today’s topic is happy accidents. We’ll get to that in a minute. But tomorrow I’m going to talk … And thinking about it, I think tomorrow’s topic will actually become a weekly theme. Maybe it’ll Thematic Thursdays and it’ll stay on a theme every Thursday. And maybe I’ll do that with each day of the week, probably. I think that’s a good idea. But I will remain topical, but I can do categories of topics, I suppose, on different days of the week.
And, oh, as we get into this, if listenership actually does happen, other than mom, so right now I’m talking to mom, if she’s the only one listening, mom, email me with any questions you may have. But I would like this to be a dialogue. Maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’ll do … Well, maybe every day I’ll read an email. I mean, if it gets to that point. That’s the optimistic side of me, that there will be at least enough listenership to get to the point where a fraction of those will even respond. But you have to know the email address. So here it is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All right. So … Where was I? Let me see how far into this we are, a couple of minutes, okay. All right, so happy accidents. Now, when I initially thought of this topic, it was just a case of, I don’t know, something had happened or I was thinking about, reflecting on something that had happened, that, it’s like, “Huh, there’s no way I’ve could’ve … There’s no way I could have orchestrated that, no way I could have been … No way I could have intentionally been in the right place at the right time.”
Oh, there’s a leaf blower up here. Well, I’m trusting that you can hear me above everything else. When I say I don’t listen back to these, I have tested the filters I put on, and the way I’m holding the mic, the recording device. So it’s aiming away from the leaf blower. So here comes a dog. I’ll try to avoid saying hi to … There’s just dogs everywhere, and leaf blowers everywhere, and road construction. And I’m going into a quieter section of the neighborhood, hopefully.
Okay, happy accidents. So the reason I think of the Louisiana Purchase … Now, I just remember it vaguely from high school history class, I don’t even remember which year. But the United States of America purchased upwards of 30% of the entire, well, not counting Alaska and Hawaii, but upwards of 30% of the continental United States was purchased, I believe, from France for $2. Now, $2 went a lot further back then, but even back then, $2 is a ridiculous sum for hundreds of square miles of property. Granted, only a little bit of it was, quote unquote, “beach front” Louisiana down there.
I don’t know if it was the entirety of Louisiana and it included parts of Texas and Oklahoma, but it went up, I think from Louisiana, Louisiana Purchase goes up and westward, and expands and gets wider up towards the border of Canada. I don’t know if any of Canada was included and we sold some to Canada and turned a profit. I don’t know. I don’t know those details. I’m not even positive it was France. I don’t even know how far back it was. Was it Napoleon? Mom, do the research and email me and give me the details. Anyway, so in a future podcast though, I’ll clarify all these details.
But what I do know, it was one of those circumstances that it just, it was a legal purchase. It was in the best interest of both parties, I guess. I mean, certainly for the United States. But I don’t know, like France needed to unload this thing? There’s a detailed history that’s remarkable, but I don’t recall the details. I haven’t even heard all the details. But let’s call it a happy accident because, well, the United States of America certainly benefited, and most of the world has benefited from the existence of the United States of America.
So happy accidents. The reason that I was … The Louisiana Purchase wasn’t the impetus for this topic, but it occurred to me as I was meditating on the topic. I think the majority … Well, there’s no way … Well, without further research, extensive research, I can’t use that ratio, majority. I think happy accidents … I know happy accidents, what I’m defining as happy accidents happen all day, every day to every one of us, all day, every day to one one of us. People call them coincidences.
Here’s an example. Yesterday, I just struck up this conversation with this guy, this business owner that I know. I frequent his business. Every couple of weeks, I pop in. And we got into a conversation and we were talking about his business and how he found a place, a physical brick and mortar establishment, he found a place that, he can’t imagine finding a more ideal scenario, where there’s another business that owns the building he’s in, and is a natural fit for the business he wanted to start.
And this business had this property with a bunch of empty space. It was warehouse space that they didn’t need, their business … They just needed the location and the property and part of it, and then the rest of it sat empty. And so his business fit perfectly with their business in such a way that a bunch of the overhead costs that he would have had that … He couldn’t have this business, is the way it pencils out. He would not have been able to start his business, or for it to flourish. It’s been there a year and a half and it’s expanding and growing. And he’s able to take risks that he wouldn’t have been able to take if this circumstance hadn’t happened.
And when you think through all of the things that had to go right for that, it’s almost like he hadn’t even thought through it all. In that conversation, I could see in his mind, how he’s like, “Oh, yeah.” And so, it emphasize … I’m missing the word here. It validates the notion I have that happy accidents are happening all the time. Take technology. Scientists have, sometimes it’s a private industry, they have an idea they want to develop a product, or even military technology. People are inventing and devising things all the time for different reasons, and discovering things that become incredibly useful in other fields and other areas of life. It just happens all the time, these happy accidents. And it’s from human ingenuity and innovation and searching and seeking and discovering and learning and studying, and driven by, essentially pure motives.
People just want to … If you have a goal, something you believe is worthwhile, something pursue, it’s not immoral. It’s not … In general, your average human who’s born into, well, at least in Western cultures, with freedoms, you don’t have to worry about surviving in the sense of dodging bullets or dodging those people who want to kill you. Because there’s a huge percentage of the population on the planet that that’s their everyday concern. But generally, those people won’t be listening to this podcast, because it will be the comfortable Western world who has enough of their life in order that they can actually have the luxury of listening to a podcast, literally.
So those of you, generally, you have pure motives. I’m sure greed can creep in, lust can creep in. There’s all kinds of impure motives. But in general, if you’re pursuing, “I just want to provide for myself and for my family and for future generations and for my neighborhood, and I want to provide for my community. I want to be a good citizen, I want to provide for my society,” those are all pure motives. And when you seek out pure motives, you just go in a direction. Things happen. And you’re not always aware of how they happened. But good things happen. And call them “accidents.” I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in these “happy accidents,” as I call them. Or it’s only an accident because you weren’t focused or you weren’t looking in the direction from whence the good circumstances came. And even afterward, your life may get better and you feel it, but you may never even be able to trace back to where and why.
And it comports with kind of a life lesson that I’ve heard repeated over and over again, and experienced myself, and actually kind of defines happy accidents. When you don’t know what to do with your life, like what direction to go, what job to take, what school to go, what subject to study, if you’re just at an impasse or crossroads, are you moving, is the first thing. Are you moving in a direction at all? Because if you turn the steering wheel of a car that’s sitting still, it’s not going anywhere. So when you make a decision, are you moving in a direction?
And very often, when you move in a direction, you have this target. Say it’s a hallway, there’s a door at the end, you’re like, “That’s the door I want to go through,” and you’re moving in that direction, and you get closer and closer to it. And then, because you moved in that direction, other vistas open up to you, look to the left, look to the right. “Oh, I couldn’t have possibly seen this if I hadn’t been heading in this direction.”
And then you, more often than not, realize that these other directions, these other vistas that opened up to you, are more closely aligned with the path you want to be on. And it’s because you’ve started moving in the direction you thought you were supposed to go, which turns out it was the direction you were supposed to go because that direction led you to the new direction. And so, paths are windy. We always think … We got our eyes set on something far in the future, or maybe not that far, but we get our eyes set on something, or our hearts set on something. The goodness of that, even if that thing isn’t what we ultimately wind up with, it’s good, it’s a good desire and motivation because it pulls us closer to where we need to be.
Got really philosophical, and I’m glad. Maybe I can give some specific examples of happy accidents, again, without disclosing too much. Okay, I want it to be interesting enough, so I want to be able to give some details. The main project I’m working on right now, let me just say that since I started on this project two years ago, almost exactly two years ago, it was the end of September, 2017 when I saw a doorway, I guess. I mean, it was … To get back to that analogy, I was looking ahead, not seeing … I mean, I knew generally what I wanted to do and then I saw a specific doorway. I’m like, “Whoa, okay, I’m going to pursue that.” And the good news is the doorway that I started pursuing two years ago, it’s still there, but getting closer to it has been an adventure.
And I would say the happy accidents that have occurred in these past two years have just increased in number, kind of accelerated in frequency, beyond probability, I would say. And partly why I’m documenting this now, because I expect those happy accidents to continue, and if I’m documenting it in some format here in an audio podcast, then it could be evidence for the skeptics at some future time. Okay. So in thinking about that, in thinking about why it seems that these, quote unquote, “happy accidents” seem to be on the increase, I thought, “Well, maybe it’s not so much that they are on the increase than that my eyes are just becoming better at noticing them.” Maybe the nature of the project I’m working on, the deeper I get into it, the clearer my vision about the circumstances around me are, if that makes any sense.
Because in reflecting upon my life, I could look back at, “How did I get here? Well, that had to happen, and, ooh, then that had to happen. If that hadn’t happened, then I wouldn’t be here. And if, oh, I didn’t meet that person, then … If I hadn’t made that decision and took that leap of faith, or …” all of these circumstances that brought me to where I am right now. And I stand here walking through this neighborhood, quite literally, in as literal a fashion as possible, the place I landed on this planet, and I was like, “Oh, how did I get here? I can trace back to how I got here.” But if I had planned it ahead of time, I never could have gotten here, if that makes sense.
I landed exactly where I hoped I could be decades ago. But my route, the way I got here, had to just happen. I couldn’t have orchestrated it. Boy, that’s kind of obscure. But I’m not giving you a specific instance, that’s all generalities. So a specific instance of a happy accident, all right, I’ve got six and a half minutes. Let’s see, how much of this I can say without disclosing. Yes, I have a non-disclosure agreement in place that covers very specific information. There’s plenty that I can tell you, but that I don’t want to tell you yet. So this exercise in self-editing extemporaneously is fun and challenging.
So two years ago, I saw this door, basically this project, this thing, like, “If I can work on a project like this, oh, it would be fulfilling and satisfying in just about every way, professionally, but also fulfilling something meaningful, doing something important for the world.” I mean, when you’re aiming in a direction in life, why don’t you aim high? I aim high. I aim, like, “I want to change the world here.” And every award show, and every kid thinks they’re going to be famous, you know, “Let’s change the world. We’re going to change the world.” Well, you can. I mean, if you don’t have the right frame of mind and know what that means, or just saying it doesn’t put you on the right path to doing it, but if you apply yourself, you can figure out ways that will change the world.
So, problem is about this subject, this topic, this project came across my path, I didn’t know anything about it. It was, I learned about something, a detail that stood out to me, that stuck out to me, in the profession that I’m in, storytelling in Hollywood, and I’m like, “What? No way. That’s true. Let’s see. Seems to be historically something real and true, but I don’t know enough. There’s just so much to know about this. If it’s going to be done right, it can’t just make up a bunch of BS,” which as you might suspect, the nature of the business I’m in is a lot of BS. And that is not what I want to do, especially this specific subject, it’s like, “Wait, if that is true, huh, you cannot mess with it. You cannot Hollywood it.” So it’s almost a contradiction in terms. I want to Hollywood this thing, but I can’t Hollywood it. Well, it turns out that the thing itself is far more compelling than anything I could have ever imagined and any BS I could have made up.
So again, that obstacle was like, “This is something, it take me, personally, decades, at least a decade, to plunge into, to plow through, to cover all my bases and to become an expert so that I know that I’m being fair and honest and representing the facts accurately.” So I was doing research, was in a place that has lots of books, and chatting with a guy who worked there about this subject. He was like, “Oh yeah, yeah, every one of these books on all of these bookshelves will help you,” right? So shelves and shelves and shelves of books all about this subject. And I’m like, “Oh really? Well, that doesn’t help. All of this can help me, but that doesn’t help.”
And a guy walks in at a point where I was kind of desperate, I was sitting on a stool in an aisle pulling books off shelves and just glancing, flipping through them. And some guy walks past me, I could kind of tell he was a little annoyed that he had to walk around me. It’s like, “Who’s this person sitting on a stool in the middle of the aisle of these bookshelves?” And he comes back with the other guy I was talking to, the guy that works there, and that guy’s like, “Oh, it’s such a coincidence that you’re here. This guy never comes in here. He never comes in here. It just so happens that thing you were talking about doing research, well, this guy is an expert. That specific subject, this guy knows everything you need to know.”
And it turns out that guy was also out of a job. He had just kind of lost his job. He was in transition, go back to school for his PhD, or go back in the private sector. And I said, “Well …” I wasn’t offering him a job because it was at a point … I don’t yet have means to compensate him. But I just said, “Well, this subject, I think I need to do this. And I’m not an expert in it. It seems like you are. I would need someone like you to help me. Would you like to?” And he goes, “Sure.” Just like that. And it turns out someone else had asked him to help previously on a similar subject, but they didn’t get him to sign an NDA. And I did. And that guy has become like a brother to me.
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