It’s strange how a dusty old 1962 edition of a book with its pages cracked and falling out of their binding can change your life. I still have the book on my shelf. It has a strange title, “The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity”, and it was written by a Christian woman, Catherine Ponder.
I first saw the book covered in dust in a garage belonging to the mother of my girlfriend Lynn in early 1992. Lynn’s mother had used the book to press flowers, and there were still petals between its stained pages. I was drawn by the title, at once appealing to my systems engineering background and my desire for prosperity. Lynn’s mother asked if I wanted the book and I took it and threw it into the back seat of my convertible. That night I began reading it.
Catherine Ponder told the story of how she turned poverty to riches by following the secrets she shared. There was no “science” among those secrets. She spouted a lot of scripture passages from the bible, and her interpretation of the bible passages seemed far fetched at best. For example, she talked about “gold dust in the air” waiting to be collected by anyone willing to believe as she believed. It was ridiculous!
But by the end of the third chapter, “The Vacuum Law of Prosperity”, I was hooked. In that chapter she was saying that you have to get rid of what you don’t want in order to attract what you do want. I know, I know, this sounds a lot like “The Secret”, and we now know that it is nothing more than the Law of Attraction. But keep in mind that I had discovered this 1962 edition of the book in a garage in 1992, many years before “The Secret” was published and the ideas in it became well known.
The first vaccum technique was to practice Forgiveness, an idea straight out of the bible. Though I was initially dismissive of the technique, reading that section gave me my first glimpse at why Christianity might have caught on, and why it might be of value to those who believe in it. It was the first time I had seen the technique of Forgiveness used for something other than overtly religious purposes. And I thought I would give it a try. We all have people in our lives we need to forgive, and so I tried it then. I don’t remember the details, and I might not share them now even if I did remember. But there I was, an atheist reading a book written by a Christian, performing a religious (or at least I had always thought of it as a religious) technique, and feeling better because of it.
My next step in the process of creating a vacuum in my life was to put my house up for sale. I had loved that house. It was costing me an arm and a leg at an interest rate from the early 1980s, 13+%, and I had been unable to refinance the loan because I had been underwater in the mortgage for years. I loved that house. However, after reading chapter 3 of the book, something inside me told me the house had to go, that it was holding me back. I called a realtor and got an appraisal. I was told that I was no longer under water. The house went on the market in April 1992 and sold within a month.
The next step was to forsake all other women. For all practical purposes, I was seeing only Lynn already. But by acknowledging the vacuum, Lynn was there to fill it, and it strengthened my commitment to her.
The final vacuum came when I informed my employer that I would be gone in a year to return to graduate school. I asked Lynn to join me, and together we applied to graduate schools and got accepted.
At the end of the next summer, 1993, with Lynn at my side, we moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to pursue graduate school.