There are two kinds of luck: the kind that hits us out of the blue and the kind that we create for ourselves. The first kind is very rare and we have no control over it. This is the sort that most people believe in. That is why buying lottery tickets is so popular.
When I was very young, every Saturday night at tea-time we all had to keep quiet while my father
listened to the football results to see if he had won a prize. After each check of his completed entry forms he threw down his pencil and recited the same words: “They’ve let me down again!” We all got on with our tea and he got on with his disappointment. I was only five or six at that time but I formed a lifelong promise to myself that somehow or other I would learn how to make my own luck. Talk about role-models! Mine were not of the usual variety, I didn’t copy from my elders, I learned from their mistakes.
After my husband died a few years ago, I moved to a rented house close to my daughter. I looked for a new hairdresser. We chatted together and she asked if I had retired. “Certainly not!” I said “I shall retire the day I die!” I told her I was a writer. “We have a writer in our village. She, too, is an older lady. She is German and has written the story of her life during World War 2.”
“How surprising!” I said. “I have also written a book about my experience during the war.” My first thoughts were “I must meet this lady”. I met Heide Elfenbein and her husband Josef, a professor emeritus and soon made friends for life. I don’t make friends easily. We had so much in common that it was uncanny.
Our discovery of each other could hardly have been a coincidence. It is an excellent example of synchronicity , a discovery of C.G. Jung. We not only have an awareness of our own inner being but there is also such a thing as a connected, or universal unconscious. The more we keep our eyes and ears open the more we increase our creativeness and notice opportunities and most important of all, we feel we are in touch with all living people and all our ancestors.
Our stories were about the same length. Our lives had been so different that I thought if we published the two books in one, they would make a powerful contrast with each other. Heide is well-known in Germany and has published many books including poetry. I was not well known in England. Heide wanted her book to be published in English. I suggested that we should translate her story together. I knew a little German, but I am also a linguist and had some experience of translation from Spanish into English. Heide speaks enough English to get along, but not enough to put her book into a literary style.
We worked together very well and liked each other’s stories. In six months we completed her book into English. Heide had published her book in Germany already some few years ago. We set about looking for publishers in England and Germany. This is not a good time for publishing. So far I have been unable to find one, but I keep looking. Heide found a renowned publisher in Germany and our joint book will be published in March, 2011. As she is well-known in her own country, we have both been invited to Germany for the day of publication so that we can talk to people and sign books. I am learning German as fast as I can.
Heide and I are both entrepreneurs. We both write and paint. We have become very good friends and work well together. Moreover, our outlook on life is very similar. Because of the inevitable influence of propaganda in all countries when wars break out, it has often been taken for granted that the entire German population was firmly supportive of Hitler and his party. Not so. We agree that wartime propaganda lingers on and everyone should know about all those brave German people , including some who were members of the Nazi Party, who risked their own lives because they did not agree with all of Hitler’s ideas, especially the Holocaust.