Destiny Introduction
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My name is Rick Archer.  I have a story to tell which strongly suggests that 'Fate' plays an important role in all of our lives.  The concept of 'Fate' flies directly in the face of another concept known as 'Free Will', a major cornerstone of Christian philosophy.   Conversely 'Fate', or 'Karma' if you prefer, is a cornerstone of Hindu philosophy.  So which is it?  Is everything 'Predestined' or do we have the 'Free Will' to make our own choices? 

Although I do not presume to have the answer, my own belief is that we have Free Will most of the time.  However, I also believe certain 'Karmic' events will take place in our lives whether we like it or not.  Our only choice in the matter is how we react to each Fated event. 

Based on my own sense of Reality, there is 'ordinary' and then there is 'extra-ordinary'.  During the first 30 years of my life, I recall roughly 25 unusual events that suggest the involvement of a Hidden Hand in my life.  During the next 30 years, my life was completely normal. 

So here is the problem.  I cannot prove the existence of Fate.  Nor can I prove that these unusual events outlined a Path which led to a very special Destination, or 'Destiny' if you prefer. 

What I can do is cover each of the 25 events and build a case based on circumstantial evidence.  I invite you the Reader to come along and assume the role of Judge and Jury.  I will present the evidence and you can decide for yourself whether I have made my case or not.


My story begins with the details of a very difficult childhood.  Then comes high school, college, and my complete breakdown after being dismissed from graduate school.

I slowly put my life back together by taking dance lessons for three years while I wandered around in a state of utter despair.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a career as a dance teacher materialized out of thin air.  What makes this development utterly ridiculous is that I had no talent for dance.  Even more absurd, I was a social cripple.

In every high school yearbook, friends inscribe notes and make predictions.  My yearbook prediction would have said, 'Least likely to succeed as a dance teacher.

In 1999, I owned the largest dance studio under one roof in America. 

So how do I reconcile such a disparity?  As you will see, I contend that 'Fate' played a direct role in this strange turn of events.  Let me go one step further.  There is a part of me that suspects my ineptitude was deliberate.  It was my 'Destiny' to have the most unlikely success story imaginable just to make my point more clearly.

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 concept 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 my conclusions.

The name of my dance studio was SSQQ, short-hand for Slow Slow Quick Quick.

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. 

The secret of our success?   Moondance and 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. 

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. 

I retired from running the studio in 2010.  During the last ten years of my career, SSQQ witnessed 150 weddings take place, an average of 15 per year.  I know this for a fact because I listed every one of them.  Those were just the weddings I knew about.  Typically there two or three more weddings per year that I never knew about.  I firmly believe that over the course of my 32-year career, the studio created an average of one new marriage per month.  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. 

As for me, I loved to teach dance.  Considering the vast number of students who passed through our doors, there is a real possibility that I taught more people to dance during this period than any other teacher in America.   

Do I say any of this to boast?  Well, maybe a little, but let's put a giant asterisk next to my accomplishments.  For reasons that will be made clear, I am modest about these achievements.  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, from the start of my dance career, 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 unusual 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 ordeal before I finally reached a place where 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.  I was closer to Quasimodo than Adonis.  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.  Patsy turned me down when I asked. 

Men are hard to find to join dance companies.  After all, someone has to lift those little butterflies into the air.  Considering I had value as a man to lift her pretty teenage dancers up high and bring them back alive, I realized what Patsy was really saying was that 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.  But things were even worse than that.  I was the proverbial flop with chicks.  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, 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 to leave because I did not have the right personality to help people heal.  Try to imagine what they were really thinking.  More than likely, my professors believed I was too disturbed to be allowed to get anywhere near patients.

So there you have it.  Patsy Swayze said I had no dancing ability.  My graduate school professors said I lacked social skills.  I had no friends.  I had no parents.  I had no money.  I had no patron. 

Considering my personality problems and my inability to dance, I had no business creating a dance studio, much less the most successful one in the country.

This is not an exaggeration.  No fibs, no embellishment.  If you will give me the honor of reading 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. 

I had only one thing going for me?  Destiny.

I assume everyone has heard the term 'chosen profession'.  I did not choose to be a dance teacher; the job was handed to me by accident... or more like by Fate.  I was asked to teach a small class of 15 line dance students.  I was hardly an expert.  Furthermore, I had only been dancing at a Disco once in the past two years.  I was an average dancer and completely inexperienced as a dance teacher. 

And yet when Saturday Night Fever hit two 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 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




At a certain point early in my career, my dance studio had a lead on all competitors.  However, an important innovation was required to maintain that lead.  Unfortunately, no progress could be made until I solved a Riddle.  Solving this Riddle would guarantee the success of my dance studio for years to come. 

I am sorry to report that I was unable to solve the Riddle on my own.  Nor could anyone else.  I had every person I knew working on this problem, but we all struck out.  Sorry to say, the Universe had to send me some help.  Yes, this was one of my '25' unusual events.

The answer turned out to be very simple.  In fact, the answer was so simple that in a blinding flash I realized how difficult it is to see things from a new perspective.  This realization was both humiliating and enlightening at the same time. 


Here is my point.  It occurred to me that it is possible to walk through life with blinders on.  This failure taught me that no matter how sure I was of my own mind set, do not be afraid to look for another way of seeing things.

Two years passed.

After the dust settled from the four-year whirlwind of lucky breaks and perpetual obstacles, one day I looked around and 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 busy to realize the actual magnitude of my accomplishment until now. 

My first reaction was to take credit.  Wow!  Look what I did!  Yes, indeed, I patted myself on the back.   I was full of pride. 

'Hey, good job, Rick!  You outsmarted them all and outworked them too.'

At this point, I was very full of myself.  However, that did not last long.  A shadow of doubt crossed my mind.  The more I thought about it, my accomplishment made no sense.  I knew my dance students gave me all the credit, 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 just how preposterous my accomplishment was. 

Indeed, considering all the handicaps I had to overcome and all the gambles that had to break just right for me, I could not have done this alone.  At this moment, I had an 'Awakening'.  Everything that had taken place during that difficult four year stretch suddenly took on a complete new appearance.


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 through life with blinders on.  However, now that I looked back, it seemed that I had been following a well-designed Path the entire time.  It was hard to believe in coincidence, but it was much harder to believe in anything else. 

At this point, I concluded that I had been given the benefit of supernatural help.  If so, then this dance studio was my Destiny




It is my contention that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. 

Unfortunately, I have no psychic ability whatsoever.  If there is an Invisible Word, then I am not the one seeing it.  Therefore I have no choice but to use the only two powers available to me... Logic and Observation... to figure out what is going on.  In other words, I am no different than the next guy.  I am in the same boat as everyone else.

Speaking of boats, I wish to use the Titanic Disaster, a story we are all familiar with, to help illustrate what my book is about.  No disaster has been more analyzed and discussed.  What bothers me the most about the sinking of the Titanic is the sense that there was something 'weird' about that disaster. 


At the inquiry, Charles Lightoller, the Titanic's surviving Second Officer, stated:

"Titanic was the victim of an extraordinary set of circumstances that could only happen once in a hundred years.  Normally there would have been no problem, but on this particularly freakish night, everything was against us."

Once in a hundred years, eh? 

Given that I am a Logical person with an understanding of statistics, I am a huge fan of Improbability.  I believe Mr. Lightoller was attempting to say the Titanic Disaster was highly improbable.  Whenever I come across the word 'Improbable', I go on Supernatural Alert.  Was the Titanic Disaster meant to be?  Perhaps.


As you read my story, you will discover in addition to my love of the word 'improbable', I am also a big fan of the words 'maybe', 'perhaps', plus 'who can say?'

There is no certainty that the Titanic Disaster was a Fated event.  Nor will there be complete certainty when I discuss 25 unusual situations in my story.  The nature of Circumstantial Evidence is that we observe, we wonder, and then we render a verdict.

No matter what we decide, we always know there is room for error.  That is the nature of Probability.  On the other hand, if ever there was a tragedy that had 'Fate' written all over it, that would be the Titanic.  


In his classic book Night to Remember, Walter Lord blamed the Titanic disaster on a 'terrible miscalculation.'

Terrible miscalculation, eh?

"It is unsinkable!  God Himself could not sink this ship!!"

The word 'unsinkable' rhymes with 'unthinkable'.  And yet the ship sank anyway. 

I live my life by two rules, Realistic and Mystic. 

To me, 'unsinkable' means that Realistically speaking, if we accept Mr. Lightoller's estimate, there is only a small one in a hundred chance something will go wrong .  Most people would have pegged it closer to one in a million, but let us not quibble.

To me, 'unthinkable' means that Mystically speaking, some things are meant to happen no matter what the odds. 

As for me, my Realistic set of Rules say that if I drive too fast in traffic, I am more likely to have an accident.  My Mystic set of Rules say that some things are meant to be no matter what precautions I take.  So I am always careful, but when something happens that makes no sense, I assume it must be Fate.  I have learned to accept that some things happen for a reason.  I clean up the mess and try to learn my lesson.


In my book, I discuss the theory of Cosmic Stupidity.  What is Cosmic Stupidity?  Think 'Divine Inspiration', then flip it 180°.  If it is true that Fate plays a part in our lives, then I believe it is possible for our common sense to be suspended at certain key points in our life.  I will use the Titanic disaster to make my point. 

One of the reasons people are fascinated with the Titanic to this day is the freak nature of the accident.  First of all, the ship was considered unsinkable.  Second, the ship had to hit the iceberg at a near impossible angle to expose a small, yet fatal weakness.  Third, what were the odds of hitting an iceberg in the middle of nowhere?

As it turns out, the chances of the Titanic hitting some rogue iceberg were not as remote as it may seem.  The Titanic was approaching a known ice field.  In fact, just three days before the Titanic disaster, there was a major collision in the same area.

On the night of April 11, 1912, an ocean liner named Niagara slammed straight into an iceberg in the icy north Atlantic.  Passengers above were thrown from their chairs.  Passengers below rushed in terror to the decks.  Although the ship's bow was badly buckled, no one was hurt.  The ship limped onwards to reach New York in safety.  This event took place in the exact same ice field that the Titanic was approaching.   

On the same evening as the disaster, a ship named the Californian was heading west on a course near to the Titanic.  In the evening twilight, there was barely enough light left for Captain Lord to spot the ice field.  Captain Lord ordered the helm hard right and the engines full astern.  The ship's head swung rapidly to the right but it was too late.  The ship actually entered the loose margins of the ice field, but was unharmed.  Shaken by the near miss, Lord decided to stop and wait until morning to proceed further.

Before leaving the bridge, Lord saw a ship's light to the east.  As the officers spoke, they too saw the ship's lights approaching.  Captain Lord went to the wireless room to find out if the operator knew of any ships in the area. Evans informed Captain Lord that he did: “only the Titanic.”  A warning was sent at 07:30 pm, but it was disregarded. 

Indeed, on the day of the disaster, the Titanic had received iceberg warnings from five different ships, the Caronia, the Athenia, the Amerika, the Californian, and the Mesaba.

At 09:00 am, Titanic received the first of the ice warnings from Caronia.  Captain Smith of the Titanic acknowledged he had received the warning in the early afternoon  and posted it for his officers to read.

At 01:42 pm, Captain Smith received a warning from the Greek ship Athenia that she was passing ice bergs and large quantities of field ice. This warning was acknowledged by Smith.  However, the later warnings from the Amerika, the Mesaba, and the Californian apparently never reached Captain Smith. 

Even though the three later warnings never reached Captain Smith, he cannot be excused.  Over the past four days, Captain Smith had received 21 radio warnings from ships that there was a deadly ice field directly in the ship's path.  The men on the Titanic knew full well there was danger out there.

That ice wall that stopped Captain Lord and the Californian in its tracks was ominous indeed.  Later research indicated the Titanic did not even make it to the heart of the ice field.  Instead, the Titanic probably hit an iceberg at the very edge.  In other words, the Titanic never had a chance of getting through at night.  Too many obstacles.

The irony becomes even more intense when one remembers the iceberg warning from the Amerika earlier in the day was sent from practically this exact spot.  This disregard for safety cannot be explained in any sensible way.  One can only assume that Captain Smith put too much faith in the ability of his spotters to detect looming danger.

Captain Edward Smith was an experienced sailor.  He was about to retire, but was persuaded to stick around to take the Titanic on its maiden voyage.  Captain Smith should have known how difficult it was to spot a giant iceberg in the dead of night. 

At the very least, Smith could have slowed down.  One would think given the numerous iceberg warnings by wireless over the previous few days, Smith would proceed cautiously.  So what did Smith do?  Did he stop the ship as night approached?  No.  Did he at least slow the ship down?  No.  The conclusion of the official British inquiry said the Titanic was going much too fast for these conditions. 

What Smith did do was post two men at the front of the ship.  One of the watchman, a man named Frederick Fleet, survived to tell his story.  He reported being frantic with worry.  As he peered desperately into the darkness, he understood clearly the safety of the ship depended on him.  But he couldn't see a thing in the gloom!!

Experienced sailors report that in these dark conditions a ship can come as close as a quarter of a mile - 440 yards - before spotting an iceberg.  Indeed, the Titanic lookouts actually did better than that.  Evidence suggests the Titanic lookouts spotted the iceberg at a distance of 500 yards away.  But that still wasn't good enough.

Given the ice field conditions that Smith was well aware of and given the darkness which eliminated any realistic chance of spotting an iceberg from a distance, it was foolhardy to be moving so fast. 

The Titanic was sailing at 22 knots that night, a pretty fast clip.  If the men were to spot an iceberg at 440 yards away, at the speed they were moving there was not enough time to avoid the obstacle.   At 22 knots, the giant ship would have needed 850 yards to stop.  It is one thing to have a slim margin for error, but these calculations show the Titanic never had a chance.

In The Night Lives On, Walter Lord's follow-up book about the Titanic, Lord wrote:

"Captain Smith was aware of the ice ahead.  He did not slow down because he was sure that on this clear night any iceberg could be spotted in time to avoid it. In reaching that decision, Smith did not feel that he was doing anything rash. He was following the practice of all captains on the Atlantic run."

Although we will never understand what Captain Smith was thinking, his decisions made no sense.  One Captain stopped rather than risk his ship; another maintained a reckless speed.  In certain situations, some people have judgment; some don't.

The officers on the bridge were quite aware of the fact that they would coming up on ice. So why would an experienced shipmaster like Edward Smith deliberately put his ship in harm's way by speeding through an ice field known to contain giant icebergs?  

Cosmic Stupidity.

So what is the difference between Real Stupidity and Cosmic Stupidity?  It is the same thing as Ordinary and Extra-ordinary, Rational Stupidity versus Irrational Stupidity.  When someone is stupid all the time, we assume he is Ordinarily very stupid.  But when a Captain with 50 years of naval experience behaves in such a colossally stupid way, you have to sit back and wonder about this.  Doesn't Smith deserve the benefit of doubt?

My theory of Cosmic Stupidity says that at certain key points in our life, our common sense becomes temporarily paralyzed.  I understand this is a controversial theory and I also understand I have no way to prove it.  However, I do have Captain Smith.

Captain Smith is the poster boy for Cosmic Stupidity.  Yes, he made a terrible miscalculation and thereby goes down in history as the idiot responsible for perhaps the most famous blunder of all times.  But has it ever crossed your mind that his judgment might have been suspended by supernatural intervention? 

In other words, if there is such a thing as 'Fate', then there has to be a mechanism by which it works.  If the Titanic was meant to hit an iceberg, why not persuade Captain Smith to behave in a totally irrational manner?

'He did not slow down because he was sure that on this clear night any iceberg could be spotted in time to avoid it. In reaching that decision, Smith did not feel that he was doing anything rash.'

Could there be a darker reason why Smith never received the last three warnings?  And how do we explain why Captain Smith had no idea how badly he had miscalculated the difficulty of seeing an iceberg at night?  Looking at it this way, Captain Smith may have been blinded.  If so, blinded by whom?  Blinded by Fate?  Who can say?

This is what I mean when I say perhaps we need to look at things from a totally different perspective.  Where exactly do ideas come from?  Perhaps some of our best ideas and worst decisions come from a place totally beyond our awareness. 

That, my friends, is what this book is about. 


Much of our lives is utterly predictable.  Day to Day Ho-hum Ordinary.  But once in a while something happens that is so unlikely we have to take a step back and ask ourselves if we really know what is going on.  Maybe it is time to look at things in a different way.  I speak here of a concept known as Coincidence

I believe that when something very 'improbable' occurs, it may have a far deeper meaning than we realize.  Could a Coincidence actually be evidence that the events of man are manipulated behind the scenes by the Cosmos?  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 reappear to raise some more people from the dead. 

Unfortunately, these are no longer the days when events such as the parting of the Red Sea are commonplace, at least not to my knowledge.  Since modern miracles are few and far between, in my search for evidence of God's existence, I have settled on mysterious coincidences and improbable events as my best bet. 

So what exactly do I consider a Coincidence to be?  I just happen to have a very good example. 

In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a book titled Futility.  The subtitle was The Wreck of the Titan. 

The similarities in this book to the actual wreck of the Titanic are uncanny.  In the fictional version as well as the actual event, both ships struck an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic.  Both the fictional collision and the actual collision took place at midnight in mid-April.

The Titan disaster took place 400 miles from Newfoundland. The Titanic disaster took place 400 miles from Newfoundland.

In the book, since the Titan was considered unsinkable, it carried far too few lifeboats, "as few as the law allowed."  Does that sound familiar?

In the book, more than half of the Titan's 2500 passengers drowned.  In real life, more than half the Titan's 2200 passengers and crew died. 

Although Morgan Robertson was a well-known writer of short stories, Robertson became deeply frustrated when no one would publish his book.  The rejection letters all said the same thing.

"Sorry, but no one will ever believe this story."

That 1898 publication date is correct.  The actual Titanic sinking took place in 1912.  Robertson wrote his book 14 years prior to the actual event.

Does this story prove anything?  No, of course not.  But it certainly gives us a legitimate reason to be open-minded. 

Coincidence and Cosmic Stupidity are concepts that appear with startling regularity throughout my story.  As you will see, there are times when my own story is just as weird as the Titanic story.

It is my hope that my unusual Saga speaks for itself.  However, ultimately it is up to the Reader to reach their own conclusion. 











"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




Back in 1982 when 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. 

In the years beyond 1982, SSQQ Dance Studio ran like a well-oiled machine for the next 28 years.  No coincidences, no lucky breaks, no mysterious events.  We taught thousands of students to dance and married off one couple after another who had met through the studio. 

In 2010, the studio's lease was up.  I was 60 years old and in no mood to sign another long-term lease.  So I sold the studio.

In 2012, a former student approached me with an excellent opportunity to open another dance program on a much smaller scale.  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 a 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? 

There is Ordinary.  And then there is Extra-Ordinary. 

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 my comeback.

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 Cosmic Stupidity.  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 up there really didn't want me running another dance studio. 

Not my will, God's Will.  That was my conclusion.  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 my book. 

In 2013, I was taking one of our daily walks in the woods with Marla, my wife.

"Okay, Rick, you've been working furiously on that book of yours for a year.  Tell me about it."

"My book starts in 1984 when I got thrown out of graduate school..."

Marla instantly cut in.

"Why graduate school?"

"Getting thrown out of graduate school was the second worst thing that ever happened to me.  If I start anywhere else, the book will get too long."

"You can't start with graduate school.  You need to go back to childhood.  You need to tell everyone about those parents of yours and what happened at St. John's.  Otherwise no one will ever understand just how badly screwed up you were."

Have I mentioned Marla has a tendency to be blunt?  Honest, yes, but tough too. 

"If I start there, the book will be too long!  Honestly, people are NOT going to read a huge book unless I am super-famous."

"Well, you are not super-famous, but you have an important message.  If you are going to convince people that your life was guided by Fate, then you need to talk about the divorce and St. John's and Mrs. Ballantyne and all the crazy stuff you have told me about.  Otherwise your book loses much of its impact."

And with that, let us begin.

Rick Archer








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