Destiny Introduction
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INTRODUCTION TO DESTINY

 

My name is Rick Archer. 

My story 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 Romance...

 

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 America.   

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 clever innovator.  

The thing is, even from 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. 

So I turned to dance lessons to help with my non-existent love life.  Did the dance lessons work out like I hoped?  No, absolutely not.  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 in Wonderland. 

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 dancer!

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 average 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 possible?  Destiny. 

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 possible?  Destiny.

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... really lucky.

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 crisis attached. 

Here we go again.  For four years, my life was a neverending sequence of Risky Business meets Saturday Night Fever meets Urban Cowboy

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 appearance.

My Awakening 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.

That stage 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 fortune 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 else. 

I concluded this dance studio was my Destiny

 


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 paranormal events. 

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. 

A highly 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 pseudoscience. 

Jung's ideas 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.

Since modern 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 carefully.

My favorite story concerning Coincidence involves Sir Anthony Hopkins, the talented actor famous for his terrifying role as Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs

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 book. 

After his 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 stranger.

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 original annotations!"

Hopkins was 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.  

The author 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 Feifer.

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 explanation."   
 
        -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

 


ABOUT THIS BOOK

 

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, I was 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 point. 

My next 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 else.

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 my face. 

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 the book. 

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.

'Unseen Help'... 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... some say 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.


Rick Archer

 

 


PART ONE: FAILURE

Chapter ONE: VANESSA

 

   
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