I first met Rasheed Hooda, author of Life: It’s a Trip, about a decade ago in a local CiCi’s Pizza, where he was entertaining children and adults by making balloon animals – and, for my son, a balloon sword. We talked about fencing, balloons, and blogging. We exchanged URLs, then quickly lost touch. A few years ago, Rasheed’s picture popped up on my friend Mitch’s blog, in a post called, “Dream It And It Will Come.” Rasheed was living a dream, traveling the US – and there he was, with Mitch. And apparently, the two of them have been blogging buddies since before I ever ran into Rasheed.
It’s a small world, after all.
Now, before reading Life: It’s a Trip, I (reluctantly) read two of Rasheed’s children’s book manuscripts. Anyone who knows me well knows that my secret dream is to play Simon Cowell on Author Idol. I don’t see it as breaking hearts and minds; I see it as sparing aspiring authors a lifetime of angst and anguish. But it kills me to crush a friend. And you’ve seen my general thoughts on writers reviewing other writers’ books. I cannot tell you how relieved and delighted I was to be able to honestly say that his children’s books are good – the characters, the pacing, the storytelling skill all show great promise. I told him to stop doing what I do – stop stuffing the old manuscripts into a drawer or a box in the garage – and start polishing and submitting them to publishers.
In his Final Word on Life: It’s a Trip, Rasheed wrote:
“…just to get Holly off my back, I went searching for my old writings and came up with a manila folder filled with hand written notes,typed essays and stories, and worksheets from the Creative Writing Class I had taken more than twenty years ago. In that folder I found a coffee stained sheet of paper, folded in half, with the heading “I have a Dream”. No, it is not the manuscript of the famous MLK speech. Instead, it reminded me of a vision I held more than twenty years ago. It reads…“I envision a book with my name on the front cover. It’s a bestseller. It’s filled with small essays and bits of poetry I have written over the years. It contains all the lessons I have learned over the ages – from zero to forty something. It’s beautiful. It’s funny. It’s full of wisdom. Wisdom I’ve acquired from others and wisdom I would like to share with others. It is my dream come true. It is the book you are holding in your hands. “Dreams do come true. But first, you must have a dream. So dream on and dream big.”
Just to get me off his back? What am I now, Rasheed, your Muse?
I can live with that.
So, this book of acquired wisdom Rasheed is offering on his site is really a collection of personal anecdotes, experiences that have led Rasheed to where he is now, and reading it is a little like sitting across the table from the author over tea, getting friendly tips that might benefit you in your quest for a worry-free, satisfying, comfortable life. It’s definitely not your typical, slick, pop-psychology self-help book with multiple acronyms after the author’s name. It’s simply Rasheed, sharing with you what’s worked for him. There are some real insights in this book –
And that’s refreshing.
He begins with my favorite quotation:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance that no man could have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Each essay contains one or more insightful gold nuggets – what makes them gold is that they are drawn from experience, not just preached and expected to be taken as gospel. In reading, “What are you worth?” I didn’t learn something new, so much as saw the truth of what I knew in action – that what motivates people to buy and to pay you isn’t the thing that they’re buying. Where there’s a thing or a service to be bought, there are usually choices. What sets you or Rasheed apart from the herd? I won’t give spoilers here, except to say that if this was news to me, I’m in the wrong job. And I like to think I’m in exactly the right one.
I winced and struggled right along with Rasheed as he told the tale of his quest to climb the Guadalupe Peak. For me, the personal challenge was – and will be again – Cinder Cone and Lassen. Perhaps I’ll meet Rasheed there, one day, huffing and puffing up the mountainside. I have no illusions about Everest, but that’s not my dream – that’s Rasheed’s. And I have no doubt he’ll do it if he truly sets his mind to it.
Rasheed is a practical practitioner of the sort of thinking behind such concepts as The Secret – an ill-kept secret my own mother taught me as the keys to her winning contests and sweepstakes a few decades ago. So we know it works, but the hurdle is believing in it – and in yourself – and taking a leap of faith to plunge forward and make it happen, trusting that the universe, or God, has both your back and your front and won’t let you smash down, face-first, on hard concrete. You firmly establish the intention – the commitment. You get into the right state of mind; a state of mind that I can only describe, for me, as a vibrational “pitch” like in singing, only it’s a “pitch” of thought, not voice. You open your eyes and your heart and you listen to what they’re telling you. You shove fear and doubt and negative thought patterns – yours and others’ – away. You plan for success. And you leap, trusting that it will all be just fine.
Rasheed has been joyfully jobless and nomadic. Some tiny part of me would like to try that out, but again – it’s not my dream, it’s not what I’m driven to do. But Rasheed and I have much in common, I think. Our attitude towards work is more similar than I’d imagined. He writes:
I told her that I have always worked for myself. That confused her, given the fact that I was working at the restaurant. So, I explained. I work at the restaurant. The restaurant and I have an agreement and an understanding of sorts. I would show up on certain days, at certain times, and perform certain tasks for and on behalf of the restaurant. In return, the restaurant pays me a small wage and provides an opportunity to earn more money in the form of tips and I have a certain amount of flexibility in scheduling.
If I am not performing to their expectations, they can terminate me. but if they are not meeting my needs to my satisfaction, then I can terminate them and offer my services to someone else, and I have. Be the best at what you do and take pride in your work and money will never be a problem.
I’ve worked in corporate America most of my career, and have been happy there. I don’t feel like a “wage slave.” Maybe that’s because I’ve always felt it was as Rasheed described it – working for myself. It’s a choice, and my way involves less administrative paperwork.
Rasheed touches on topics like the innocence and creativity of children; mentorship; intuition; money (it’s not the most important thing in the world, but you can earn what you need); success and “failure”; the value of network marketing (without the hype and nonsense); trust and letting go; having a “try anything, because you never know” attitude; being completely honest with your children, and more.
If impeccable spelling, grammar, and formatting are how you judge a book, you may be disappointed. But if you want to have tea with Rasheed and hear stories about his life and experience, and glean some insight from the things he’s learned along the way, download the book. Even the deal he offers may feel uncomfortable to you – after all, how do you put a price tag on that? And that’s what he’s asking you to do – name your price. Shoot, he even gives a money-back guarantee!
You’re welcome. For the earworm.