Hoodwinked into a miracle
When I took the mic, I got chills. Good God, I'd been hoodwinked into a miracle.
I’d just finished defending my thesis in a small auditorium on campus, when out in the audience, I saw a small group of my closest friends and colleagues smiling and waving at me from their seats.
Afterwards, while we were mingling and having a laugh, my boss said, straight faced and not at all joking, “Have you ever thought of skipping all this and becoming a comedian?”
Hmm. Weird thing to say AFTER I JUST DEFENDED MY THESIS.
I hadn’t slept in two weeks wrapping this thing up! I went to graduate school AND worked full-time for three years! I just put on the academic performance of lifetime! In the following years I’d embark on a PhD in counseling and be instrumental in helping countless lives!
And this dude wants me to just, what - go down to Joe’s Bar and Grill and do a little diddy on open mic night?
And just - do that?
For a living?
But when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said because he scratched at something raw. I’d abandoned my calling. And somehow, my boss, unintentionally and super dumbly, called me out on it.
No, I didn’t want to be a comedian, per se. But when I was a little girl, about 11 years old, I just knew that one day I would become a published author. Later, in high school, I knew I’d be a published humor writer.
And then in college, I guess I just … forgot?
I decided to not get my degree in English because if writing didn’t work out, I didn’t want to be a teacher. So, I went into advertising, thinking it was a good combination of all my talents and I’d make a crap ton of money too, walking briskly in a smart pant suit to my agency’s high rise in New York.
But after graduating, there was no pant suit, or a high rise or a New York. Just a cubicle writing mind numbing copy about lawn mowers and flash sales.
It never dawned on me, not once: I’d swerved hard outside my calling.
Until years later, that is. Dawning all over me while I was on the fast track to become Dr. Anna Lind Thomas, sitting in an oversized chair, wearing an oversized cardigan, listening to people’s problems.
A worthy endeavor. The wrong track.
Soon after my boss’s compliment/rude insult, I sat down with Rob outside a cafe and asked if I could put my pursuit of a PhD on hold to pursue writing full time. He was in college to become a nurse working as a CNA at the time, so like a loving idiot with zero financial moxie, he said yes. Suze Orman would have lost her mind.
Six years later when my writing pursuits were going okay, but not great, and Rob and I were in the kind of student loan debt that puts you into a deep, grave, denial, I chopped vegetables at my kitchen island while my Lucy coo’d in a bassinet. I was on YouTube watching a woman do some kind of talk on stage and within myself I heard, as if from a person standing right next to me, “I want you to do that.”
Out loud, I said, “No.”
From the family room, Rob said, “What?”
And because I didn’t want Rob involved with either my talk with God (or the onset of schizophrenia?), I prayed my next response.
“Absolutely not,” I told God. “My calling is to be a writer, not a speaker, or a comedian, or any other such nonsense. I want to write books for the rest of my life. I do NOT want to do that.” Then I gathered my vegetables and plopped them in the roasting pan. Lucy began to fuss, so I took her to a chair and nursed her. As we rocked, I felt startled by what had just happened to me, but also unmoved. Whatever it meant, I had an infant, and there wasn’t much I could do about it, even if I wanted to.
And I didn’t want to.
Four years later, I got a two book deal with Harper Collins/Nelson Books. And soon after the launch of my first book, Creative Mornings asked me to speak at their local chapter event (you can watch it here).
As I walked up to the podium my spirit stirred, AND I KID YOU NOT, I heard, “I told you so.”
(It’s worth mentioning this talk was in an art exhibit and I spoke in front of a huge print of Michelangelo’s Hand of God. Ridiculous.)
Hoodwinked into my own destiny.
One year later, and just a few weeks ago, at the launch party for my second book, I’m Not Ready for This, I decided last minute to just tell the funniest stories in my book, rather than do a reading straight from the book. Readings are great, but the energy is different and I wanted the vibes to be a ruckus. As I took the mic, chills cascaded down from the top of my head.
Good God, I was about to do stand-up.
Hoodwinked into my own destiny. Again!
And, listen. I’m not too modest to say, I crushed.
“Anna,” my friend Brady said, running up to me while I signed books. “What the hell was that? You’re a stand-up comedian now?”
I mean no. But sort of?
It’s been over a decade since my boss’s insult about comedy. Six years since I stood at the island, chopping vegetables, rebuffing the advances of inspirational speaking.
Little miracles, man. They come slow.
They can take years, maybe even a lifetime. And by the time they arrive, we’ve often forgotten they are the fruition of a seed, planted long ago.
Then one day, while organizing a shelf in our shop, swirling frosting on a cake, sitting down in class or in front of a blank page, walking down the aisle, on stage, or rocking a child to sleep— our memory bubbles to the surface of that one time. That one comment. That one fleeting, but somehow prophetic word, thought, prayer, or feeling we were too dumb, selfish, or simply not ready to receive. Arrives.
And it dawns on us. We were hoodwinked. Bamboozled.
Into doing the thing we were made to do all along.
I’ll always write books. And I’m not going to be the next Amy Schumer (I think?). But I’m going to perform, more often.
How can I not?
At some point you gotta see what all the hubbubs about.
Now get in the comments and tell me all about your tiny miracles.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor out of Omaha, Nebraska. She’s listed as one of USA Today’s funniest women writers, and author of the best selling book We’ll Laugh About This (Someday) and I’m Not Ready for This.