Tag Archives: success

BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S1, Ep. 12 – “What You Need”


They say that success is what happens when planning meets opportunity (perhaps with a little patience mixed in), and surely this episode is the best lesson when it comes to following that formula.

Pedott (Ernest Truex) is an elderly psychic peddler.  Now there’s a unique job if there ever was one.  Every night, he visits the same bar with a brief case of goods to sell – matches, string, cards, etc.  He sizes up the booze hounds, picks out an item and says ever so ominously, “this is what you need.”

Case in point, a down and out baseball pitcher drowns his sorrows at the bar.  His arm’s shot and in his opinion, that means life is over.  He could never find happiness in any job outside of baseball.

Pedott talks the pitcher into buying a bus stop to Scranton, PA of all places.  It seems silly until he gets a call – he’s been offered a job as a coach and suddenly, all seems right in his world again.

Meanwhile, Pedott talks a lonely woman into buying a bottle of cleaning fluid.  When the pitcher remarks that he can’t show up to his new job wearing a stained suit, the woman is able to use her cleaning fluid as an ice breaker and suddenly, she’s found the love that has eluded her for so long.

Lesson?  Your opportunity awaits.  You just have to be prepared.  In real life, maybe the preparation doesn’t come in the form of an item, but maybe it comes in the form of study, training, bettering yourself, being able to prove your worth when you are given a chance to do so.

While barflies are typically pleased to receive Pedott’s help, there’s a hole in the heart of the villainous Renard (Steve Cochran) that can never be filled.  Renard has been beaten up by life and is perpetually angry.  His hard breaks have left him irreversibly bitter.

Pedott sells Renard a pair of scissors, which Renard uses to save his own life.  Later, a leaky pen leads to him winning $250 on a horse.   Soon, Renard gets hooked on good fortune, but it’s never enough.

Whereas the pitcher and the lonely woman seized the good fortune the world offered them, Renard doesn’t grasp his lucky moments.  Saving his own life doesn’t convince him to try harder to be a better man.  An extra $250 doesn’t convince him to maybe invest, start a little business, do something to improve his life.  No, he wants more, more more…he scoffs at his small lucky breaks.  They just aren’t good enough.

What happens next?  You’ll have to watch for the ironic twist, as no episode of this show would be complete without one.  However, the message is clear.  Luck exists.  Good breaks will happen for those who prepare for them.  Some may get better breaks than others but small breaks are nothing to sneeze at and should be embraced and made the best of.

If you’re feeling bitter…is it because you had bad breaks..or did you not make the most of what the world gave you?  Sure, the pitcher had a better break – a coaching job.  However, he prepared for it by working as a baseball player for years.

The lonely woman found a good break – a potential husband.  She prepared for it by living the life of a good woman and being honest and looking hot and, oh come on, it was the 1960s.  I suppose if this episode was made today she’d be sold an item that leads her to becoming the CEO of a major company or something.

Luck exists and yet, we also make our own luck.  A break won’t matter if you aren’t prepared for it.  You get out of the world what you put into it.  Renard hadn’t put enough into the world…but perhaps if he’d been a more positive person, being saved from the near death experience and winning a sum of money that was pretty hefty in the 1960s might have good motivators for him to get his life in order.  Instead, he doesn’t look at the old man with gratitude but rather, anger – as if luck isn’t a matter of combing preparation and opportunity but rather, as if luck is a metaphysical slot machine.  Just give me another item, and another, and another…what have you got to sell me today old man?  I’ll keep playing the odds and maybe I’ll get luckier and luckier without putting the preparation work in.

What do you think, 3.5 readers?  Is luck real?  Do we make our own luck?  Maybe luck is real, but it only helps if we are prepared for it when it comes?  What say you?

More importantly, as the title goes, “What do you need?”  It’s a loaded question.  What do you need in your life to be happy and what do you need to be ready when opportunity knocks on your door?  Do you need a good job?  What do you need to qualify for that job?  Perhaps you’ll never be lucky enough to qualify for the job you want, but if you don’t seek out the proper credentials and experience, you’ll never be ready if that opportunity comes.

Do you need romance?  What do you need to get it?  Do you need to improve yourself?  Maybe lose some weight, fix a few cosmetic, surface issues?  Dress better?  Drop a bad habit?  Become more responsible?

What do you need and what do you need to get it?

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Storming the Castle of Success

Nothing in my life has ever been easy.

At times, I get down about that.

Imagine success is a castle.  For some people, the drawbridge just opens and in they go.  They are welcomed with rainbows, unicorns, leprechauns, fuzzy bunny rabbits, and juggling clowns.  Nice clowns, not scary ones.  The ones who make you balloon animals.

I’m not knocking them.  I’m sure they’re good people.  I’m sure they were all qualified for entry into the castle.  Even if they’re not, I believe success is something that everyone should have.  Them being less successful does not cause me to become more successful, so there’s no point to being displeased with them.  I just wish them a happy journey and tell them to say hi to the leprechauns for me.

Then there’s me.  When I knock on the door to the Castle of Success, out come the orcs, the dragons, the flame sword wielding dark knights, the zombies, the bow men, the pike men, the pointy stick men, the pots of boiling oil and the catapults.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, England, 11 October 2005

As I stare out in the sea of evil that stands between me and the Castle of Success, I can’t help but think, “What is wrong with me?”

And then the questions pour in:

“Where did I go wrong?”

“What could I have done differently?”

“Was there a point in my life where I was blind?  Did I miss a nice, clear path to success?  One that did not involve orcs, dragons, et al?  What mistake did I make to cause me to veer from this path?”

“Look at all these damn orcs, dragons, monsters, and so on.  Is it too much?  Should I just give up and walk away?”

“Surely, as tough as things are, there are many people who have it worse than I do.  They wish they had a chance to fight the orcs, the dragons, the monsters, et al.  They’re still stuck in the countryside, wishing they were in the general vicinity of the Castle of Success.”

Inside the Castle of Success, there is a book I have written.

I miss the days when I was young and able to stay up 48 hours straight writing term papers fueled by nothing but Monster Energy Drinks and feel fine.  Doing that today would leave me feeling like I got hit by a Mac Truck.

There’s no more “I’ll leave it till the last minute then stay up all night.”  There’s only “be responsible and do a little bit every day.”

The burdens of life settle in.  The Castle of Success is right there within walking distance.  The orcs and dragons are waiting to fight me.  They’re getting impatient, checking their watches and wondering if they should just give up.  Maybe I’ll never manage to take them on.

I could stop and lie down.  This spot on the grass seems comfy.  Yes, I could fight the orcs and win, or I could become an orc’s lunch and end up losing my nice comfy spot on the grass.  Decisions, decisions.

One orc gives up and cracks open a book.  Another watches “The Walking Dead Orcs” on his Orc-Pad.

I hate Orcs.  More than Yetis.

And so I sit down and wait.  And I stare at the orcs, dragons, knights with fire swords, zombies, bow men, hot oil droppers, etc etc and I wonder if things will ever click in my life so that I can find a way to take them all on…i.e. a strategy for working on a book in small increments every day that will eventually pay off.

I get up one morning and decide “Today is the day I’ll work hard on my book.”  By nightfall, 500 unexpected occurrences happen that draw my attention away from anything having remotely to do with writing.

And then when I do get a chance to write…I criticize myself like I’m a super-charged Robert Ebert.

Will I ever get over my perfectionism?  Will I ever realize that not every TV, movie, book, piece of entertainment is 100 percent perfect?  That I just need to get my ideas on paper the best I can, get them proofread, edited, into a book, and then swing for the fences?

I look to my left and my right.  People are just strolling all carefree into their respective Castles of Success.  Part of me assumes everything is so easy for them.  Another part, a better part, reminds me that inside every person is a battle we know nothing about – that inside people who seem to have it all together there might, in fact, be a struggle we’ve never seen, nor do we want to.

Maybe it only looks like they’re being greeted by leprechauns and bunnies.  Maybe the leprechauns are crazy.  Maybe the bunnies have sharp teeth.  We only see successful people in the best possible light.  We have no idea what they went through.  We shouldn’t bash them.  Bringing other people down will never raise us up.  “I’m doing so poorly because others are doing so well” is an illogical fallacy.

I need to disregard them.  Whether its easy for them or not is not my concern.  My concern is the fact that every accomplishment I’ve ever made has not come easy.  It has come by fighting orcs, dragons, and zombies for what I do have.

Knowledge is power and knowing that the orcs and dragons must be fought to reach the Castle makes me stronger.  I must stop lamenting my lot in life, quit playing the “woe is me game,” and stop hoping that the Castle of Success will magically come to me.

I know I never get anywhere without a fight and I must fight my way to the Castle.  Worse, I must fight myself, which is no easy feat, for I am harder on myself than the orcs and so on.

So I forget all that and focus on my personal orcs.  And dragons.  And monsters, zombies, flame sword nights, guys with boiling pots of oil, and also the purple purple Indian arm burn rubbers.  I hate those guys the most.

I may never leave my comfy spot on the grass.  Part of me says forget these orcs.  The other part says if dreaming about fighting the orcs is what gets you through the day then so be it, even if you never leave the grass.

I’ve run out of things to say.   I must fight these orcs and find my way into..the Castle of Success.

I am Bookshelf Q. Battler.  I read books.  I try to write novels.  I fight Yetis.  I have 3.5 readers.  And I hate orcs.

Bodiam Castle Image Courtesy of Flickr User Phillip Capper via a Creative Commons License

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