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Houdini Cured My Writer's Block

August 20, 2018

Houdini used to say that he could get out of any jail cell in less than an hour if he were allowed to go in with his street clothes on. A small town in the British Isles invited Houdini to prove it, he accepted the challenge and amongst fanfare and cheering crowds, he strode proudly into town, and into the jail cell. They closed the door behind him. Houdini then took off his coat and produced a 10 inch piece of steel that he had hidden in his belt. It was strong and flexible. He went to work. I can only imagine the self satisfied grin on his face. After the first half hour, I imagine that grin had faded a bit. By the end of the hour, he was sweating profusely and agitation had set in. He worked on that lock with his piece of steel with quiet determination growing more and more frustrated. He had promised that there was no cell that could hold him but this particular door was proving to be more of a challenge than he had anticipated. At the end of 2 hours, Houdini collapsed against the door in exhaustion. And the door opened. It did not open because Houdini was a master magician, even though he was. It did not open because his willpower and determination did not allow him to give up. It did not open because there was in fact, no cell that could restrain him. The door opened, because it had never been locked. However, even though it had not been secured from the outside, it might as well have been locked with a thousand keys. Because, even though it was unlocked from the outside, in Houdini’s mind, it was just as locked had it been barricaded by a ton of steel.

 

The moral to this true story is this; other people, circumstances, or situations, can stop us temporarily. Only we can stop ourselves permanently. We limit what we are able to accomplish by what we think and believe. Houdini went into that cell with a certain thought process. He had decided before he entered that cell, what he was going to do. He thought only of his part in the equation. He did not consider how others played a part in his situation. It never occurred to him to try the door first. He just assumed the door was locked. It was a logical assumption, to be sure. It was also incorrect. The mistake Houdini made was that he thought he knew everything he needed to know to get out of that jail cell. But what he knew was incomplete. He knew his own skill. He knew he had a plan and how to implement it. But he didn’t know anything about the door or the people on the other side of it.

 

Life is often like that. It is human nature to think of ourselves first and to depend on our own judgments without fretting over the rest of the world. We put forth a bit of effort and think we know all that is necessary to accomplish whatever it is we are striving to achieve. We get to a point in our lives, careers, with our friends and families that we think we know all there is to know. But the key to success of any kind is being teachable, flexible, and adaptable. Zig Ziglar said “If you want to achieve your goals, the chances are 1000 to 1 that you are ever going to make it by yourself.”

 

I have been suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. Normally, I sit down at the computer, lay my hands on the keyboard and the words write themselves. For several weeks, however, the norm has been abnormal. I would have an idea but it never materialized into anything I or anyone else would want to read. When I sat down to write this blog, the idea had come from ruminations on humility. I had all kinds of grand ideas. (Get it? Grand ideas / humility?) None of which ended up in this blog. However, over the past several weeks, my little community has been suffering. For whatever reason, there are several situations which are leaving a gray cloud over our collective sky. Seems odd when one lives in paradise, to have these types of issues.  Like Houdini had ideas before he entered that cell, I had some imposing ideas about how I wanted to present a message about humility, among many other blogs I have tried to write over the past weeks. And like Houdini, I ultimately ended up with the outcome I had hoped for; he got out of his jail cell; and I managed to write a blog or two. Neither one of us accomplishing our goals the way we had planned. Neither one of us considering the outside influences that would shape our respective outcomes.

 

I suppose this blog was about having a humble heart after all.

 

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