When I was 10 years old, my mother remarried and she was able to reunite our family for the first time since I was a baby. My slightly older brother Dave and I had lived in foster homes together all those years. There we were at last, all under the same roof again, my wonderful mother, my not-so-wonderful alcoholic stepfather, my oldest brother, Jim, whom I barely knew, Dave and me. We lived in a tiny duplex that year that I entered the 4th grade at Chester Arthur School. My teacher Mrs. Engel had a rule that if the class was quiet and well-behaved, she would read aloud to us from 2:45 until 3:10 when it was time to go home. I took it upon myself to be the classroom enforcer and keep the other kids in line because I really wanted to hear that story. (Here’s where I first learned that I could influence people when coming from a positive place.)
Mrs. Engel was reading to us from The Secret Garden. Does anyone remember that classic children’s book? It was written by British author Frances Hodgson Burnett and first published in 1911. I loved being read to and I really loved this story about a little orphan girl named Mary. Mary goes to live with her uncle in the English countryside and, with two new friends, she discovers a lost rose garden that magically heals their lives. The Secret Garden is really about a secret place in each one of us—a place that we can escape to, a place where we can do anything, create anything we want for ourselves. We can make the world come alive, we can create miracles. I, too, had a secret garden that enabled me to deal with the instability of my life, all the places and people I had had to adjust to. I had some crazy experiences as a little boy, some of it abusive and nasty—some of it wonderful and great. I just kept getting new experiences all the time, but somehow I always knew that I could go within and get quiet and be and do anything. I think that knowing had something to do with the way my life has gone—writing 41 books, all about the power of the mind to enable us to be and do, to create anything we want for ourselves.
Whatever the divine power is that is moving the checkers of life around, it all fits together. That divine power saw someone who wanted to teach self-reliance and gave him a life as an orphan. I was also given a brother, older but smaller and weaker, who needed to be taken care of. This is how I’ve come to look at my life—the way all the pieces seem to fit together. I’m asking you to look at your life like this, too. Instead of looking with regret, instead of looking with fear, anger, pain, and sadness, try looking at your life from a perspective that the whole thing is divinely orchestrated. It’s the most amazing shift.