My name is Rick
details how a young man who suffered a breakdown after being
dismissed from graduate school slowly put his life back
together through dance lessons.
Improbable as it might seem, despite having no talent for
dance, these lessons resulted in a career as a dance teacher. I contend
that 'Fate' played a direct role in my strange tale.
I hope my
unusual story will help persuade some people that there
really is such a thing as 'Fate'. However, I am
well aware that such a thing is impossible to prove.
Therefore, if I am unable to convince my readers of the
existence of Fate, at the very least I hope to demonstrate
how I personally arrived at this conclusion.
The first part
of Destiny details how dancing helped me put
my life back together. The second part of
Destiny explains how I
created a dance studio named SSQQ (Slow Slow Quick Quick).
Since SSQQ got its start back in the days of Saturday Night
Fever, initially my dance studio
taught people how to Disco dance. However, later on
the dance program expanded to include Swing,
Ballroom, Latin and Country-Western.
By the time the
Millennium approached, SSQQ had grown so big that we
could barely fit everyone in the building. At its peak, my Houston-based
dance studio saw
as many as 1,400 people walk through its doors per week.
At that point, I am fairly certain SSQQ was
the largest dance studio in America under one roof.
And what was the
secret of our success? Slow Dance leads to
Right from the
outset SSQQ was an amazing hotbed of romantic
activity. I discovered the moment a man learned how to
properly place a woman in his arms, his new-found skill
increased his charisma dramatically. Since women love to be
held, the combination of dance music and a
journey across the floor in the arms of a gentleman formed
an irresistible magic.
By merging our
popular dance classes with frequent dance parties, I created
a blueprint that made SSQQ the closest thing
to a marriage factory ever designed. My dance studio
became Cupid's playground. A legion of energetic
dancers met one new partner after another. With a wide
range of choices, people could pick the one they liked the
best and let
the potent dance chemistry go to work. Countless love affairs were
spawned and many of these moonlight revels turned into
serious romances. Over the course of my 32-year
career, the studio witnessed another wedding every month.
As for me, I
loved to teach dance. Considering the vast number of
students who passed through our doors, I wonder if I taught more people
to dance during this period than any other teacher in
Do I say this to
boast? Absolutely not. For reasons that will be
made clear, I am modest about my
accomplishments. I make these points not to impress
someone about me,
but rather to highlight that SSQQ was a very
special and very busy dance studio. During my very
unique career, I came to see myself more as someone who
followed a path laid out in advance than as any sort of
The thing is,
the start I knew something weird was going on. However I was
far too busy coping with the constant challenges to give it
much thought. Facing tremendous obstacles at the start
of my career, every time something weird happened, I simply
told myself I would think about it when I got the chance.
In fact, I had to survive a difficult four year
rollercoaster ride before I reached a place I could catch my
breath. It was this critical four year period that explains why I look to the Supernatural
as the best explanation for my inexplicable success.
Indeed, the story of how
SSQQ came into being is so utterly improbable that it
defies understanding. This is not your average 'Boy
makes Good' success story. Not even hardly.
There is a very unusual twist to my saga. Ordinarily
one would expect a story about some spunky street kid who could
dance up a storm and win some big dance contests.
Naturally one imagines a good-looking hunk like Patrick
Swayze or John Travolta
with lots of girl friends and plenty of envious guys along
for the ride.
Guess again. That ain't me, babe.
What if I said,
"None of the above"? In a
curious twist, I was the exact opposite of Patrick Swayze.
And how do I know this? Patrick's mother Patsy became
one of my best friends for a year. Patsy was candid
enough to tell me the truth... when it came to talent, I was
no match for Patrick Swayze. In fact, I wasn't
even good enough to join her dance company.
Considering my value as someone to lift her pretty teenage
dancers in the air, I realized in her opinion I could not
dance a lick.
Here is the truth...
Patsy was right. I never even danced till I was 24.
My training was non-existent. I never won a dance contest
in my life. I was so
shy that I cowered from attractive women. As for charm
and charisma, I was a loner who hardly fit anyone's idea of a leader. In
fact, back at the start of my Dance Path I was a deeply disturbed young man.
My character flaws were so serious that I was actually thrown out of graduate school.
This is not an exaggeration. Hoping to become a
therapist, I was bluntly told I did not have the right
personality to help people heal. When one imagines
what they were thinking behind what they were saying, my
professors believed I was too disturbed to be allowed to
continue down this path.
I had no friends. I had no parents. I had no
money. I had no patron. I had personality
problems and I could not dance.
In other words,
I had no business creating a dance studio,
much less the most successful one in the country.
There is no
exaggeration here. No fibs, no embellishment. If
you read my story, you will realize my
self-assessment is accurate. At the outset of my story, one discovers a kid who is an abject loser.
Not only had I
just been thrown out of graduate school, I had
been cheated on by my girlfriend in an especially cruel way.
Here I was, 24,
friendless, a failure in career and a
failure in love. I was completely on my own and down
on my luck. I was teetering on the edge of a breakdown.
turned to dance lessons to help with my non-existent love
life. Did the dance lessons
work out like I hoped? No, absolutely
My first lesson was an unmitigated disaster. Once I discovered I had no talent for dance,
my fantasy of meeting girls through dance evaporated.
I was so disappointed! Here I had wrapped all my hopes
around learning to dance only to discover the whole thing was a
waste of time. Now that I knew the truth, I would not dream of going out dancing for fear the
girls would laugh me off the floor. I should have quit
right there, but for a very strange reason... yes, something
very unusual... I changed my mind.
At this point, I
was the last person on earth anyone would pick to one day reach the
pinnacle of his profession. This was my baseline, the
grotto from which I started my climb. And here's the funny
thing... I didn't even know I had 'started'.
For the next eight years, one odd situation after another
kept me stumbling down a Path like an out-of-control Alice
Fortunately, I did
have two things going for me. Despite my woeful lack
of dance talent, I compensated with perseverance. For reasons that are best understood by
reading the story, I became determined to learn how to dance
no matter how long it took me. In my case, it took
three years, a span which is approximately three to five
times longer than the average guy would need.
And what was the
other thing I had going for me? Destiny.
Wouldn't it be
nice to report that once I took a dance class, I suddenly
realized this was something I loved and immersed myself in
training? Yeah, that would be nice, but it didn't
happen that way. Over the course of those first three years, I
walked backwards into my dance career with a blindfold on.
The thought of becoming a dance instructor never crossed my
mind. And why should it? I was a terrible
I assume everyone has heard the term 'chosen profession'.
I did not choose to be a dance teacher; the job was
chosen for me. I never applied
for a dance teaching job. Instead this job was handed
to me. At the
time when I was asked to teach a small class of 15 line
dance students, I was hardly an expert. I had only been dancing at a Disco
once in the past two years. Furthermore, I was at best an
dancer and completely inexperienced as a dance teacher.
And yet when
Saturday Night Fever hit a few months later, I
quickly became the best known Disco teacher in Houston.
This took place even
though I could still barely dance a lick and was afraid of
my own shadow around pretty girls.
How was this
I pegged the
odds of this happening at one in a million.
And why is that?
In a city of a million inhabitants, I was virtually the only
Disco teacher at the start. In other words, I was one
in a million.
Two years later,
it happened again. My Disco classes had dwindled to
nothing thanks to the looming threat of Urban Cowboy.
My love life was shattered as always. Disco was dead
and I was ready to quit. It looked like it
was curtains for my dance career. I hated
Country music with a passion and I had never been Western
dancing in my life. I had no will left in me to fight. Four months later, I became Houston's
best known Western teacher. Let me add one more
curiosity... I was Houston's ONLY WESTERN DANCE TEACHER.
How was this
I pegged the
odds of this happening at one in a million.
I confess I
don't know how to calculate the math here. Do I add
one million plus one million and get 'one in two million'?
Or do I multiply and get 'one in one trillion'?
It doesn't really matter. Let's just say my success
was highly improbable and leave it at that.
So how did I
pull off such an unlikely feat? The one thing I
remember is that I kept getting lucky. I mean...
By my own count,
during the key three year period at the start of my teaching
career, I received a half-dozen lucky breaks. Each
break was completely random. I never asked for these opportunities. I became
a success because these breaks kept getting handed
to me out of the blue.
Mind you, there
was always a price to pay. Each opportunity came with
a crisis attached. I nearly went mad with anxiety
because I was out of my league. It wasn't like I knew what I was doing.
But I had to try, right?
Whenever a door opened, I stumbled
through and did the best I could. And to my surprise,
each time I succeeded... barely. And what was my reward?
I was handed another opportunity complete with another
Here we go
again. For four years,
my life was a neverending sequence of Risky Business
meets Saturday Night Fever meets Urban
I had so many set-backs, I was a nervous wreck the entire time.
Most people will
agree that there are things that happen in our lives that don't
make a lot of sense on the surface. These curious events
range from the mundane to the extraordinary. Have you
ever noticed how if you look at something in a different
way, your perception changes? In
my case, one day I had an 'Awakening'.
Everything that had taken place during that difficult four year
stretch suddenly took on a new
unfolded over three stages. After the dust settled from the
four-year whirlwind, I
was shocked to realize I was the proud owner of the largest dance studio in
Houston. This was a complete surprise. I knew the studio had
been doing well, but I was too damn busy to realize the
actual magnitude of the accomplishment until now. My first
reaction was to take credit. Yes, indeed, I patted
myself on the back. 'Hey, good job, Rick! You
outsmarted them all and outworked them too.'
didn't last very long. The more I thought about it, my accomplishment made no sense. I could have fooled my students, but deep down I knew better. My
inner self was convinced there was no way I could have done
this on my own. I was the only who
knew how preposterous my accomplishment was. Now that
I was starting to see things from a different angle, I sighed with the
realization there was no possible way I had the talent to
create SSQQ on my own.
The time had
come to look at these events from a
new perspective. I took all those extraordinary strokes of
and laid them down side by side. I gasped as a clear pattern
emerged. For the past eight years, I had stumbled
backwards with blinders on. However, it seemed that I had
been following a well-designed path the entire time.
I concluded that I had been given the benefit of
supernatural help. It was hard to believe in
coincidence, but it was much harder to believe in anything
I concluded this
dance studio was my
SYNCHRONICITY AND COINCIDENCE
Synchronicity is a concept postulated by
psychiatrist Carl Jung which holds that certain events are 'meaningful
coincidences' if they occur with no obvious
relationship, yet seem to be strongly related when seen a
different way. Jung used the concept to justify his
theory that certain coincidences might be considered
Needless to say,
Dr. Jung was subjected to considerable criticism throughout
his career for espousing his radical concept that
Coincidences may have a far deeper meaning.
successful therapist who counted Sigmund Freud among his
friends, Dr. Jung felt he possessed the gravitas to endure
the scorn sent his way. Keep in mind that Dr. Jung
enjoyed considerable popularity with those who agreed with
his theories on the supernatural. However, at the same
time, no doubt Jung tired of the ridicule he was forced to
endure from those who dismissed his theories as crackpot
were deeply unsettling. Could a Coincidence actually
be evidence that the events of man are manipulated behind
the scenes by the Cosmos?
Does God exist?
I think everyone would agree it would be a lot easier to
accept the existence of God if Jesus would return to walk on
water or raise a few more people from the dead.
Unfortunately, these were no longer the days when events
such as the parting of the Red Sea took place, at least not
to my knowledge.
miracles are few and far between, in my search for evidence
of God's existence, like Carl Jung, I settled on mysterious
coincidences and improbable events as my best bet. For
years I have examined every subtle clue and suspicious event
story concerning Coincidence involves Sir
Anthony Hopkins, the talented actor famous for his
terrifying role as Hannibal Lector in Silence of the
In 1973, Hopkins
agreed to appear as third lead in The Girl From
Petrovka, a movie based on a novel by George Feifer.
The story revolved around a love affair in Soviet Russia.
As this was early in his acting career, Hopkins felt the
need to make every chance count. Given that he had
accepted this part with only the slightest idea what the
story was about, Hopkins wanted to read the book and study
how to approach his role.
Living in the
English countryside, Hopkins made a special day trip into
London for the sole purpose of obtaining a copy of the
best-selling book. However, despite a determined
search of the city with its limitless number of bookstores,
Hopkins came up empty. Hopkins was shocked at his inability
to find a copy of Feifer's Petrovka
fruitless search, Hopkins headed back to the train station
feeling deeply frustrated. Hopkins had just entered
the train stop at Leicester Square to board the train home
when he saw a book laying abandoned on a bench.
Imagine Hopkins' surprise when the book turned out to be a
well-worn copy of The Girl From Petrovka.
This was a
strange coincidence indeed. But it was about to get
A year later,
Hopkins was in Vienna during the filming of The Girl
From Petrovka. One day author George Feifer
visited the set. During a conversation with Hopkins,
Feifer mentioned that he didn't even have a copy of his own
book. Feifer ruefully admitted he had lent his copy to
a friend. To his chagrin, the book had been stolen
from his friend's car somewhere in London.
Feifer said, "I
can't replace that book. That copy had all of my
puzzled. He recalled the copy he had found in London
had contained detailed notes in the margins, notes that
Hopkins had found very useful. Curious, he went to his
trailer to fetch his copy. He brought it back and
showed it to Feifer.
gasped. Feifer confirmed that this was his personal
copy of the book. Anthony Hopkins was not only the
person who found Feifer's missing book in the absolute
middle of nowhere, he became the person to return it to
Does this story
prove anything? No, of course not.
But it certainly
gives us a legitimate reason to be open-minded.
Throughout my story, I have said repeatedly that I can do
little more than speculate. However, it is my hope
that my unusual tale speaks for itself.
A MEDITATION ON COINCIDENCE
"When you live your life with an
appreciation of Coincidences and their meanings, you connect
with the underlying field of infinite possibilities."
-- Deepak Chopra
"The more frequently one uses the word ‘Coincidence’ to
explain bizarre happenings, the more obvious it becomes that
one is not seeking, but rather evading the real
Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
Once I concluded
that I had unseen help in creating my
dance studio, my first reaction was to feel crushed.
Yes, my pride was hurt. I had worked very hard to put
this place together only to realize that I now had to place an 'asterisk' next
to everything I had accomplished. But then I came to
my senses. If my conclusion was correct, then I had
been asked to fulfill an important role. If it was
true that I had been selected to be the caretaker of a very
special place, then I should take pride in being given such
an unusual honor.
It was all very
ironic. After all, I was a highly implausible candidate. Indeed,
the last person anyone would expect to be chosen to create a
highly successful dance studio out of thin air.
Then it occurred to me that
perhaps the 'improbability' was the entire
thought was that no one would believe me. 'Let's be real', I
told myself. 'I have no tangible proof that I have been
chosen for a mystical role.' And that is how it
stayed for my entire career. I saw absolutely no point
in sharing my personal thoughts.
After I sold the
dance studio in 2010, someone approached me with an excellent opportunity
to continue teaching dance. So I
tried to open a new dance program on a much smaller scale.
However, the man I had sold the studio to objected, so I backed off.
Two years later,
2012, another person approached me with an even better
opportunity. This looked like the real thing. I
had everything going for me... a good reputation, a great
location, a huge email list of former students, two
excellent business partners, and thirty-plus years of
experience. But it didn't work. Over a six-month
period, nothing clicked.
The final straw
came when a drunken bully half my age attacked me in front
of throng of dance students. Shoving me backwards, he
put his chest into mine and accidentally spit in my face
with rage. And what was he mad about? He was furious
because I had told his girlfriend that the party was over
and that the last song had already been requested by someone
So ask yourself
this question... how much sense does it make that a man
would lose his temper over something so trivial?
On the surface,
I was angry and
humiliated at being embarrassed like this in front of people
whose respect meant a lot to me. However, on a deeper
level, I was bewildered. The
irony was inescapable. When I was a young man and had
nothing going for me, I was a success beyond my wildest
imagination because I got one break after another. Now that I was older and wiser with every
possible advantage going for me, one misfortune after
another had doomed two different comebacks. Given
my superstitious bent, I decided God was trying to tell me
something. Heck, even I can read the writing on the
wall when the letters are large enough, especially when someone spits in
So I threw in
the towel. I had failed. I did not fail for lack
of trying. Nor did I fail due to any stupid mistakes.
I failed because every possible thing that could go wrong
did go wrong. In fact, I didn't just fail,
I failed so miserably that I was forced to raise an eyebrow.
If I was reading my tea leaves correctly, someone really
didn't want me running a dance studio any longer.
So maybe there
was something else I was supposed to do. At this
point, I decided the
Universe was suggesting this would be a good time to write
So how does one
prove that Fate exists?
Unlike the days
when Jesus walked on water, I had no compelling miracles to
point to. My only hope was to build a case based on
circumstantial evidence. In particular, if I
could explain why I was so uniquely unprepared to run
the largest dance studio in the country, then I believed my surprising success would
serve to suggest I had been the unlikely beneficiary of unseen help.
Perhaps others would reach the same conclusion as I did...
no one deserves to be as lucky as I was unless there was
someone helping me.
that is quite
an assertion. How can I back it up?? How can I
convince anyone that my conclusions were true?
You see, quite frankly, I
have never been quite
sure what happened myself. Not once did I catch a
leprechaun pulling a lever or an angel dragging someone
over to help me. Whatever was happening to me was
being done outside of my awareness. All I had to go on was my
intuition that something special, something highly out of
the ordinary, was taking place. In the end, I decided
all I could do was tell my story and let people draw
their own conclusions.
How often does
someone write a book claiming to offer proof of God's
existence? Probably not very often. If you are one
of those people who ask questions about the 'Meaning of Life',
I imagine you will find my story quite interesting.
Oddly enough, I have appreciate those people for whom 'Faith' does not come
easily. I am one of those people, by the way. In fact, I think skeptics will enjoy my story.
They may not necessarily agree with my conclusions, but they
will no doubt appreciate that at least I have offered legitimate
reasons to explain why I reached the conclusions I did.
There is no way to prove
the concept of Destiny. However, the curious
events of my story will certainly raise an eyebrow.
This is the true story of a young man riddled with problems,
bereft of dance talent, and lacking direction who
accidentally went on create the largest dance studio in America. Or maybe it wasn't an accident...
there are no accidents. I say that SSQQ Dance Studio
was 'meant to be'. And now I am
going to explain why I believe that.
PART ONE: FAILURE