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Written by Rick Archer 





Rick Archer's Note:

I have written three books about Fate which cover 70 years of my life. 

A Simple Act of Kindness covers the immense problems I faced throughout childhood, high school, college, and graduate school.  In particular, I explain how the kindness of several key individuals enabled me to overcome the serious emotional handicaps caused by my tough childhood.  This book also explains how I first became interested in Fate. 

Magic Carpet Ride picks up where the first book leaves off.  It covers a ten year span, 1974-1984, which explains how a series of uncanny lucky breaks created SSQQ, the dance studio which became my life work.

Gypsy Prophecy covers an unusual event in 2001 which strongly suggests my marriage to Marla was predestined.

There is no way to prove the existence of Fate 'scientifically'.  That said, I believe the unusual events of my life offer strong empirical evidence to suggest Fate plays a vital role in our lives.  I am not alone in this hunch.  Many people report odd events in their lives which have led them to wonder if certain things are meant to be. 

At this point in the Age of Man, roughly 80-90% of Americans believe in God.  That number drops to 40-50% when asked if they believe in Fate.  After reading my story, I predict it will be extremely difficult to ignore the possibility that Fate plays a prominent role in the affairs of Mankind. 


Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
-- Søren Kierkegaard

In each of my books you will meet two versions of myself.  I tell each story from the point of view back in the days when I was young and stupid.  However, if the story involves a potential example of Fate, my older self will usually break in to explain what I came to understand as my life progressed. 

I am 70 years old as I put the finishing touch on the Destiny trilogy.  I have led a very unusual life.  In 1977 a job as a part-time dance instructor fell into my lap.  For two months I taught line dances to ten students one night a week.  Then Saturday Night Fever came along and suddenly I was teaching every night of the week.  I was so overwhelmed by the surge of interest that I found myself woefully unequal to the task.  Fortunately, thanks to a highly suspicious series of lucky breaks, I was able to extricate myself from one jam after another.  Despite the uneasy feeling that my continued success was well beyond my talent level, I created a dance studio known as SSQQ (short for Slow Slow Quick Quick).  SSQQ was a pretty wonderful place if I may say so.  In fact, there is good reason to believe SSQQ was the largest independent studio in the country at the turn of the Millennium. 

However, I was reluctant to take too much credit.  Sure, I had some good ideas, but who can say where 'Inspiration' really comes from?  In my case, all I had to do was follow a series of Stepping Stones.  In hindsight, these stones diagrammed a preordained path called Destiny.  Or at least that's the way it looked to me.

Convinced these stones had been laid out by a Divine Architect, I concluded I was leading a charmed life.  However, I did not dare tell people my secret.  It had nothing to do with false pride, but rather a fear of being laughed at.  Who wants to be written off as crazy?  But then something terrible happened, a 2012 failure that prevented me from resuming my dance career.  Now I was confused.  Early in my life, I believed God wanted me to teach dance, but this insurmountable obstacle suggested God wanted me to do something more important.  Instinct told me it was time to share my story.


Some people use their imagination to write a book.  In my case, that was unnecessary.  Over the years, I kept careful track of every incident that struck me as out of the ordinary.  By the time I began to write my books, I had a List of Suspected Supernatural List which contained over 100 events.  I covered the first 25 incidents in Book One, A Simple Act of Kindness, which concluded upon my graduation from college.   

Magic Carpet Ride starts with getting kicked out of Graduate School, the great failure of my life.  Oddly enough, that eviction led to my dance career.  Magic Carpet Ride covered the 70 events which helped me create the dance studio.  For ten years I endured a nerve-wracking rollercoaster ride marked by a constant obstacles that threatened to end my dance career.  To my astonishment, every time I faced a crisis, some sort of Lucky Break occurred to allow me to continue.  I knew something crazy was going on, but I was too busy coping with problems for any serious reflection.

Then something kind of odd happened.  One day in 1984 I realized I had nothing to worry about anymore.  The studio was so well-established its future was guaranteed.  At that moment, the unusual events ceased to occur.  The coincidence was too serious to ignore.  To me, it seemed like the Divine Architect concluded the house was built, so it was time to leave.  There were no more Mystical events for 17 years. 

My Supernatural Dry Spell ended the moment I met my future wife Marla.  Out of nowhere I experienced a sudden flurry of new coincidences and highly suspicious events.  They were linked together in a Synchronicity known as the Gypsy Prophecy.




Christmas 2000.  Sunday evening.

As the joke goes, no good deed goes unpunished.  On Christmas Eve 2000 a simple act of kindness on my part backfired in a very unusual way.  An unlocked door reawakened my fascination with Fate. 

I was raised a Quaker.  There are two branches of the Quaker Religion.  90% of Quakers belong to the branch which includes singing, pastor and prepared sermon.  I grew up in the No Frills 10% branch.  No singing, no preaching, no leader, no nothing.  Quaker Service consists of members who sit there quietly for an hour.  They meditate and perhaps ask a prayer.   Once in a while someone will stand up and offer a brief thought, but this is not common.  Quakers believe if one can silence their mind, they open themselves up for God's inspiration.  Hopefully the still small voice of God will offer a suggestion on problems and spiritual development. 

I like the Quaker Religion.  Whatever they do, it works.  The Quakers I have known are peaceful, highly conscientious, very caring.  They make the world a better place.   In particular, the principle of skipping the preacher and looking directly to God for inspiration has always appealed to me.  And yet at the same time, this wonderful principle might explain why the off-shoot branch has not exactly thrived.  Let's say it is Sunday morning.  You have worked your butt off all week and now it is time to go to church.  You wake up, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  According to Quaker principles, you could just as easily go sit in a quiet corner of your house for an hour of reflection.  I sometimes wonder if the Quaker 'do-it-yourself' philosophy is counter-productive.  

Whatever the reason, the Quaker Meeting of my youth was small, 30 or so people on a good day.  Back when we moved to Houston in 1955, the group was so tiny that meeting for worship was held in someone's house.  And so we fast-forward to 1995.  40 years later, Quaker Meeting was still 30 people on a good day.  After changing locations a dozen times, they still did not have a permanent home. 


One day my mother explained the Live Oak Friends Meeting was having trouble financing a new meeting house.  I was well aware of the ongoing headache.  Wandering from location to location, the local Quaker Meeting was a collection of nomads who spent more time looking for a home than Exodus.  The desire for a permanent meeting house was always there, but the funds were lacking.  In 1995 the Quaker Meeting had located an affordable property in the tree-lined Heights area of town.  Even better, famed artist James Turrell, born a Quaker, wished to donate a beautiful Light ceiling he had created specifically for the new building.  However, as usual the members were badly strapped for cash.  The dream of owning this very special Meeting House seemed just beyond their reach. 

I immediately saw an opportunity to pitch in.  The kindness of people I met through the Houston Quaker Meeting had rescued me from a rough childhood on many occasions.  This was my chance to return the favor.  I told my mother my dance studio remained empty on Sundays until 4:30 pm.  Why not let the Quaker Meeting use my dance studio for free and stop paying rent at their current location? 

The Meeting accepted my offer in a flash.  By the time the Millennium rolled around, SSQQ Dance Studio had served as the Quaker Meeting House for several years while their new home was being built.  As it turned out, the Quakers loved the arrangement.  The privacy and absolute silence of my dance studio was perfect for their needs. 


Although I had a soft spot for my Quaker friends, not once did I attend a Sunday Meeting held at the studio.  The demands of running the studio were so great that Sundays were indispensable as my only chance to get some rest.  The last thing I wanted was to be back at the dance studio on my day off.  Knowing these people were trustworthy, I gave them a key.  This allowed me to stay home on Sunday mornings. 

Ordinarily the Quakers were gone by 2 pm.  However, in Year 2000, Christmas Eve and Sunday coincided.  Since there were no dance classes scheduled on Christmas Eve, the Quaker Meeting had the studio to itself all day long.  The group held their traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service at 11 am.  Next up was a sumptuous Potluck dinner with an extended social gathering to follow.  It was a splendid celebration.  Good tidings, comfort and joy to all!

Everyone was excited because their new home would be ready soon.  It was only natural they stuck around longer than usual to enjoy the warmth of the day and expectations of the future.  To be honest, I don't even know who forgot to lock the door.  What I do know is this harmless mistake initiated a chain of events which led to the 'Gypsy Prophecy', one of the three most remarkable Supernatural events of my life. 


So what went wrong?  The person with the key had absent-mindedly left the premises without locking the door.  Two people who had stuck around for an extended chat made the discovery a half hour later.  Uh oh.  That is what this 5 pm phone call was about.  When my wife Judy hung up the phone, she turned to me with the bad news.  The studio door needed to be locked.

I was very irritated, but not at Judy.  Suffering from extreme burn-out, this mistake meant I would have to take an unwelcome trip on a day when I did not wish to be anywhere near the studio.  I was resting in the comfort of my home only to be forced to waste an hour of my day thanks to someone's dumb mistake.  I immediately began griping over the inconvenience. 

Since the Quakers were my responsibility, it was my duty to go.  But Judy went instead.  As I vented my frustration, without warning Judy grabbed her keys and stormed out the door.  Shocked, I stared at my 9-year old daughter Samantha who in turn stared back at me.  We were both taken aback.  After several moments of silence, Sam asked, "What is Mom so upset about?"

I shook my head.  I was just as confused as Sam.  Yes, I had raised my voice at having my Christmas Eve disrupted, but my words were not directed at Judy.  This was not Judy's fault.  Nor did I ask Judy to handle the problem.  Consequently I had no idea why she decided to go instead of me.  My instinct said her mood was much darker than the moment called for.  As it turned out, I was right.

One hour later, Judy returned.  She got right to the point. 

"I want a divorce."


Judy was my second wife.  My first marriage in 1984 was short-lived, a year and a cup of coffee.  Pat was an interesting woman.  I could write a book or I could write a few paragraphs.  Let's settle for paragraphs and save the book for another time.  On paper, our marriage was perfect.  Pat had a lot going for her.  Attractive, very talented.  However, Pat had two fatal flaws.  She was jealous and liked to argue.  In my opinion there was nothing to argue about.  We had money, health, good jobs, and security.  We didn't drink, smoke, gamble or cheat.  So what was there to argue about?  Pat's jealousy was unnecessary.  I only had eyes for her, but Pat didn't trust me.  In her mind, thanks to countless women at the studio who she suspected of flirting with me at the studio, it was just a matter of time.  Infuriated by needless bickering over Pat's persistent fear that I would stray, over time the tension became insurmountable. 

It was a shame this marriage failed.  Due to an incident in my past, I was strongly opposed to infidelity.  My father had an affair with the office secretary when I was 8.  Desperate to marry his mistress, Dad insisted on a divorce.  Mom said no.  The ensuing year of arguments drove me crazy.  I was so upset that my performance in the 4th Grade was abysmal.  My father was really angry at me.  Since he was a genius, how was it possible to have such a stupid son?  They took me to a psychiatrist to have me tested.  The psychiatrist suggested a very unusual solution... put the kid in a private school where he will be challenged.  My father flipped out.  No way he was going to spend that kind of money!  Besides, if I could barely pass 4th Grade in public school, I was sure to flunk out at St. John's, the toughest school in the city.  Forget it.

After arguing with my father for a year, my mother made a Devil's Bargain.  If my father would pay the expensive St. John's tuition for three years, he could have his divorce.  Bad news for me.  Dad quickly forgot I existed.  My new stepmother was an evil woman who drove a wedge between us.  I saw the man four hours a year for the next nine years.  Basically I exchanged my father for a good education.  In a way, I lost my mother too.  She became a nervous wreck who couldn't hold a job.  At age 9 I was forced to begin raising myself.  I didn't do very well. 


Here is my point.  The consequences of my father's affair turned me into an emotional cripple.  Thanks to my dance career, I eventually overcame my childhood handicaps.  But I was still bitter about the cheating incident that ruined my childhood.  This explains why I swore to Pat I would never do something like that to her.  But Pat refused to trust me, choosing instead to nag constantly.  It is one thing to stray and be punished, but I deeply resented being flooded with warnings for a crime I had not committed.  I tried to appease her at first, but grew weary of Pat's constant vigilance.  Finally the day came when I refused to tolerate her tongue-lashings and further.  I told Pat to knock it off, but she defied my demand.  This is when the sparks flew.  Since neither of us was willing to bend, the only solution was to give up.  One night I came home and Pat was gone.  For the record, I never strayed.  That is not who I am. 


In 1991 I married Judy.  During our ten year marriage, we raised our precocious daughter Sam and built SSQQ into a behemoth.  Judy played an impressive role in the studio's phenomenal growth.  Thanks to her tireless work with the Swing, Salsa and Ballroom programs, SSQQ was teeming.  At its peak, 1,400 students streamed through our doors every week.  This amazing total is why I believe SSQQ was the largest independent dance studio in the country in 2000. 

I was proud of Judy.  She had personally built the SSQQ Swing program into something very special.  We had been recognized two years in a row as the finest Swing program in Houston.  One would think with this kind of success, our marriage would be solid.  Unfortunately, there was a fatal rift that never healed.  The problem started in 1998 when I discovered a Swing instructor named Carnell was teaching at a competing dance studio behind our back.  Even worse, Carnell had the nerve to openly persuade his SSQQ students to come check out his class at the other studio.  Carnell knew full well I had a rule against teaching for other studios, but did it anyway.  I had never encountered a more serious case of disloyalty.

And so I fired him.  Six months later, Carnell created a major scandal by accusing us of racial discrimination.  I was incensed.  This had nothing to do with skin color.  Carnell knew quite well the reason I dismissed him was treachery, not race.  I would later fire a white country-western instructor for the same reason.  With vicious rumors about our so-called racism flying throughout the Swing Community, something had to be done to restore our reputation.  Since none of the students at SSQQ knew the true story, I wanted to write an article to explain the situation.  To my dismay, Judy said no.  Do not say a word!  Judy was already upset by the wide-spread hostility emanating from the scandal and feared the added publicity would make things worse.  I hate to say it, but Judy was right.  It would definitely have gotten much worse before it got better.  However, in my mind, we had to fight back!  To say nothing would allow this lie to remain unchallenged. 


While Judy and I argued over which direction to take, Sam was hiding in her room and crying.  When I realized how upset Sam was, I was mortified.  Oh my God, here I am subjecting Sam to the same horror my parents had inflicted on me.  History was repeating itself.  As a child, there were many nights I fell asleep crying from insecurity.  Haunted by those memories, I vowed never to put Sam through a similar nightmare.  So much for good intentions.  Ashamed of myself for losing my temper, I gave in to Judy's wish.  What choice did I have?  Judy had created the Swing program, so she deserved the final say.  Although every bone in my body screamed to fight back, I honored Judy's wish and kept silent.  But that did not mean I agreed with her decision.  I watched in fury as the unchecked fall-out from the scandal spread like poison.  Over the next two years, we lost half our Swing students to HSDS, the competing program. 

Judy and I were now a house divided.  What a shame.  Judy was a good person, a good mother and a good business partner.  She worked hard to grow the studio and deserved much of the credit for the studio's recent success.  However, try as I might, I could not accept her decision to allow this traitor to damage our reputation and that of our studio.  It aggravated me no end to be considered a racist when nothing could be further from the truth.  And so I withdrew.  During the ensuing Ice Age, we drifted apart.  Neither of us were particularly happy, but the relationship was cordial enough so we muddled along.  Since I was a 'stick together for the good of the child' type, divorce was not on my mind.  However, the moment Judy asked for the divorce, I instinctively realized she was right.  The wound caused by Carnell had festered for two years and I could not imagine how we would ever heal the rift. 


"Okay, Judy, I will agree to the divorce if I can have joint custody of our daughter."

Judy nodded her assent.  "That seems fair."

Divorce is one thing, but abandonment is far worse.  Recalling how my father's abandonment had broken my heart, when Sam was born, I promised to be a better father to Sam than my father had been to me.  So much for wishful thinking.  At this point, I wasn't doing much better than my useless father.  My guilt over the impending divorce was overwhelming.  I was upset that Sam would suffer the same consequences of a broken home as I had.  Overwhelmed by an encompassing sense of failure, I needed to be alone to lick my wounds.  So I grabbed my keys and drove to the studio for sanctuary.  As I unlocked the front door, it crossed my mind that if I had driven here two hours ago like I should have, I would still be married.  Talk about irony! 

I spent Christmas Eve alone in this empty building.  Not my idea of fun.  With nothing to do, I had plenty of time for reflection.  Sitting here alone in the gloom was not smart.  Christmas had been a time of many bitter moments during my childhood.  Sure enough, throughout the night a parade of ghosts of Christmas Past dropped by to torment me.  Gee, now I can add the memory of getting divorced on Christmas to my growing list of Holiday Horrors.

There is no way to wallpaper a divorce and disguise the ugliness.  As I sat alone in the dark, I could not recall feeling more miserable.  Not only had I failed in two marriages, I had let my daughter down.  So much for that good old Christmas Spirit. 










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