July 22 • 11:25 AM

The law of attraction's written in stone

July 11, 2007
It's all about the law of attraction. And instincts. This I know. Have always known.

It's only when I don't pay attention to it that the trouble comes. Trouble's good, sometimes. Shows up in a leather jacket and throws his weight around. Like an unruly child he demands my attention. I literally have to send him to his room without any supper—starve him out. Ignore him. If I don't, he'll never go away. And he'll start bringing all his nasty friends around—self-pity, fat and spoiled; self-absorption, weak and whiny and loud; defensiveness, a real bully and most dreadful, righteous judgment, who's always finding fault with everyone around him and proclaiming it to the world from his cracked up house of glass. Ugh. One thing leads to the other—the law of attraction—until I just give them all the boot.

A couple of weeks ago my friends and I made a pact to concentrate on what we have—not on what we don't have. It's not that we spend too much time commiserating about our problems. We don't. Still, we're having some doozies—financial woes, etc. etc.—that are a little difficult to just brush aside. But we try.

We've been getting out the "good china," crystal glasses, "nice" serving plates, cloth napkins and what-have-you, and making the most out of cheese and crackers, hummus and peanuts, water and cheap wine.

It's all good.

And then it keeps getting better. The law of attraction.

After an excruciating weekend filled with major decisions that affect the immediate and distant future, we stick with the vow to concentrate on the good things. To follow the old gut, do what we have to do and get on with it.

So we do. Individually. Collectively. Cohesive in our commitment to enjoy what we have.

On Sunday, my friend Carol and I decide to go catch a bite at Tietz's. We haven't been there together in ages, and we're both hungry and would like to go out for a change. We both agree that it's a "treat," that we could live without spending the money, etc., etc., but remind each other that life is short and we've earned the little splurge.

We walk in and scan the room for a seat. I see a familiar, benevolent face. I'm pleasantly surprised and truly happy. It's John Olivo. A man I met via this job. A man who is truly grateful for the gifts he's been given in life—the gifts he's earned through hard work and determination. The gift of listening and paying attention and never saying anything unkind. Gifts he gives back tenfold. Constantly.

We met a few years ago after he'd read an essay written by Torrey Powers, an Imlay City student. Torrey's mom Jan helps run the reading mentoring program at Weston Elementary School that John volunteers in every year. Torrey wrote about his grandfather—better known as 'Coach Powers,' and it sparked some heartfelt memories for John, who'd benefited from Coach's advice and attention years and years ago. At the time, John was in a minority. A Hispanic kid with few role models and fewer aspirations. From a good, hardworking family, John still struggled with where his place was in the world. He was, after all, "different."

Anyhow, Coach was still alive and John asked me to do a story about him—to remind people around Imlay what a special man he was and all the great things he did for John and others. So I did.

We shake hands and say hello. I introduce him to Carol. We're happy to see each other and say so. Carol and I find a table and sit down. When John leaves the restaurant, he stops to say goodbye.

I splurge on some nachos without meat—extra lettuce and onions. It's tuna salad for Carol. A glass of wine each. We're enjoying every minute of it. Then it's time to go.

We ask Liz for the bill.

"There isn't one," she says with a smile. "That man at the other table picked it up."

No Way. Unbelievable. That's so awesome. These are things Carol and I are saying to each other. Then she says, "Who was that guy again?" And I get to tell the story. And John keeps paying it forward. And Carol and I vow to do the same the minute we can, in whatever way. After all, it's all about the law of attraction—confirmed by a grateful man named John Olivo.

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