SERENDIPITY (Guest Post by Paul Curran)

 

Queen's University

SERENDIPITY

By: Paul Curran

PaulCurran

I opened the front door and hollered as I walked in: “Anyone home?” My wife called out from upstairs: “I’m up here, be down in a minute.” Closing the door behind me, I kicked off my boots and entered the kitchen. On the table to the right were my wife’s purse and a collection of written material that looked like brochures.

Picking up the brochures, I retired to my chair in the corner beside the stove where I poured a double shot of Crown Royal into a short drink glass and lit a cigarette. Turning on the stove vent fan and sliding the ashtray over beside the chair, I sat down and took a drag off the cigarette. The whiskey burned smoothly as a sip slid down my throat. The air conditioning felt cool on my skin this hot July day as the fan drew the smoke out of the room. I picked up the first colored brochure, and it was for the MBA (Master of Business Administration) program at Ottawa University.

My wife came into the room, saw me reading the pamphlets, and explained that she had gotten the material from her work, where she had been admitted to their succession program. A part of the program requirements was completing an MBA. These were the two possible universities from which she could choose. She then walked into the living room and settled in front of the TV as I continued to read and sip whiskey.  The Ottawa U info was interesting, but it didn’t mean much to me. I was working as a transportation manager at a large retailer, and I was not enamored of business in general, although I enjoyed transportation. An MBA wasn’t my cup of tea. Finished, I set the Ottawa U brochures aside and picked up the Queen’s info.

 

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Even from the first, the Queen’s colors on the brochure seemed more vibrant – blue versus brown. The words jumped off the page at me and I read voraciously. This meant something to me, this was important. As I read, knowledge formed- a strange knowledge at a level that I don’t ever recall feeling previously. This information fit me like a glove; it became a part of me and merged into my consciousness and below. Something odd and powerful was happing outside my intellect.

I had another sip of Crown Royal and re-read the brochure. There was contact information in the material, so I picked up the phone and called to arrange to get more information. I was assured by the person on the other end that the pamphlets would be sent that day and should be to me by tomorrow. She also told me that the deadline of the last week of August was fast approaching – in 6 weeks – and I needed to act quickly. When I hung up, I realized that I was going to do this Queen’s MBA, which made absolutely no sense at all. I wasn’t enamored of business, and the MBA was $60,000 with no government assistance. I lived paycheck to paycheck and had no more than $1,000 in the bank. This was nuts.

Sure enough, when I returned home the next day, the Queen’s package was waiting. I worked my way through it and again fell in love with what I saw. This made no sense. I had an undergrad degree in Chemistry and had worked transportation for the large part of my life. At 40, it seemed late to be going back to university for a degree that I had no idea how I was going to use. The degree was an “Executive” version, which meant it was done over 20 months while still working full-time. That left only time to sleep, and not much of that.  My wife and I needed to discuss it while there was still time.

My wife was quite amused, as I had done unusual things in the past, and quickly agreed – although she had no money to contribute either, which I knew and which I wouldn’t ask for anyway. So, I called the university and made arrangements to write the Master’s entrance exams. Early the next week, I took a day off and presented myself for the exam.

It was a full day of testing – all timed and monitored. The exam itself was free, but if I passed then I owed $1,000 in order to progress. I still did not feel committed, or so my intellect told me, as no money had changed hands. The exam went well and I was told the results would be sent to me in the mail in about a week. That didn’t happen.

Three days later, I received a call from the Queen’s director asking to meet me at the Ottawa campus. When I arrived, he and the assistant director took me into the empty classroom and handed me the results. I was afraid that I had failed abysmally, never having written this type of exam before and being 15 years from my last university testing. That was not the case. I had scored in the top few percent of all who had taken the test in Canada – a mark that would have been acceptable at Harvard.

Canadian MoneySigh. This was going to happen! I had to have $1,000 to Queen’s by the following week (I had that in my bank account) and then a further $1,500 shortly after that to hold my seat. Then, upon starting, another $57,500 was due in four installments, the first before the first class. Dear God.

By this time, I knew in every molecule of my body and my soul that I was going to do this. The feeling was very unusual, as if it had already been done – but all that remained was to do it. The MBA was as good as completed. Which made no sense to my intellect: I had no reason to do it, I didn’t have the money to do it, and how could I know so surely that I would succeed?

I am a person who has a great deal of faith –I’ve seen so much in life that made no sense otherwise, and I could not see how the universe could be or could work the way it does unless there was a higher intelligence. Religion, I’m not very fond of. When I pray, unless it is for the health or welfare of others, I usually pray for the wisdom to understand or the patience to endure. So, I went for a drive.

Empty RoadI do my best thinking while driving and seem to feel closest to God there. I recall pulling out of home in a wild thunder storm, with lightning flashing and rain lashing the road. On the highway and settled in, I started. Now, I don’t normally ask God for much, but I was beginning to get suspicious. In the past, I have had a few situations where I felt I had to do certain actions without any logical reason why, and it turned out those actions were very important – once saving the lives of 6 teenagers.*  I was starting to get the same feeling here –something was afoot. My intellect still could find no reason on earth why I would do an MBA and yet it felt like it was a done deal already. This only made sense if the reason lay outside me. Time to find out.

*EDITOR’S NOTE:  I want Paul to write a post explaining this – who’s with me?

So, I spoke to God and asked what was going on – why did I feel like I was going to do an MBA? I even felt like it was a done deal – that sense of completeness and peace that only comes after a deed is successfully executed. Fairly sure this was a piece of His work, I railed at Him about the price: “If you want me to do this MBA, you had better put your money where your mouth is, because I sure don’t have the money to do it.”

Alexndria, OntarioI can be quite mouthy, even to God. That task done, I returned home.

A few nights later, I received a call at home from the deacon of a church about an hour’s drive east of the city. He asked if I had bought a raffle ticket on a handmade quilt. It took me awhile to remember as I seldom win anything, and I buy tickets to help churches or kids’ sports or cancer and just consider it a donation.

Then I recalled that my wife and I had gone for a trip to a company store under construction one weekend a few months ago. While strolling in the town, we had come across two elderly ladies selling tickets on a quilt in order to fix the church roof. I bought a few tickets and we continued on.  

The deacon informed me that I had won second prize and he wanted to confirm my address so he could send it. I didn’t recall any second prize, so I asked. He said that the quilt draw had collected far more money than it had cost to repair the roof, and the church elders did not think they should keep the extra money as it would be unethical. Hence a second place prize. Fully expecting the prize to be another quilt or some such, I enquired what I had won. The second prize was $1,500, exactly the amount due for the MBA, and from a church. Ummm, message received, over and out.

When the cheque arrived a few days later, I took it to the bank, converted it to a money order and dropped it off at Queen’s. OK, now that I’m registered and my place is secured, all I need is $57,500 – yeah, right. Time for another chat.

God's CloudThis time I was a bit more respectful. It was apparent to me that God intended me to do this, and I could do nothing to change that if I wanted to be honest with myself. So I asked: “Where can I get $57,500 God?” The answer came back as a feeling which could have as easily and logically come from inside me as opposed to outside: “Ask

Well, OK. I tried all the usual finance options: banks, relatives, government assistance, friends, etc. I played it as an investment on which I would return the principal plus interest as a long term cash flow. No dice, I didn’t have the assets to back up a loan. After a few weeks, with the deadline looming, I had only one ask left: my employer.  So, I made an appointment with the president and prepared my argument.

The day of the meeting arrived, and I presented myself to the president’s secretary. Within minutes I was in his office. John (name changed) was a busy man and got right to the point: “How can I help you, Paul?” I was aware of how lucky I was to even get this appointment as John ran a billion dollar operation with 5,500 employees. My response: “I am going to do an MBA, John, and I know the company has an unwritten policy that if an employee takes a course and passes then the company will reimburse the tuition.”

John laughed: “Yes, that’s true, but you left out one important fact – the course has to benefit the job the employee is doing. So, tell me, how does an MBA help you do your job as a Transportation Manager?” Sigh – my best argument shot down. “It doesn’t, John.

John continued: “How much is the tuition Paul?”  “The remainder is fifty seven thousand, five hundred dollars.” He responded with a grin: “This company wouldn’t give me that much to do an MBA. They’re cheap.” This is amusing, considering he made those decisions. “However, we will loan you $57,500 interest free, to be repaid through a payroll deduction. Go see Frank [the V.P. of Finance] and he will draw up the documents and arrange for the cheques. He is expecting you.

John started reading some papers on his desk – apparently I had been dismissed. I sat stunned for a moment, unable to believe that I had just gotten $57,500 in a conversation of less than a minute. I rose shakily from my chair, thanked John, and stumbled out of the office on my way to see the V.P.

Diploma

The cheques came, as promised and I took the first tuition cheque down to Queen’s.

Now all I had to do was obtain a Master’s degree with absolutely no idea why, but apparently at the behest of God. It would prove to be a very interesting 20 months.

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Paul Curran and I love to hear from our readers. You may comment on tis post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com or notcordeliasmom@aol.com

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Images by:  John Marino, and Queen’s University, and Rick, and Fabian, and Doug Kerr, and Gonzalo Barrientos, and Paul Curran, respectively

This entry was posted in Guest Posters, Paul Curran, That's Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

100 Responses to SERENDIPITY (Guest Post by Paul Curran)

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you very much CM for the opportunity to guest post here on your blog. Your editing, formatting and picture arrangements are perfect. It is indeed an honor for me to be able to tell this story to your readers. Thank you once again for your patience and help.

    Like

  2. PsiFiGal says:

    Wow, Paul, that is amazing! I’ve heard and read of stories like this before. I’m an agnostic, I have had some experiences that have made me believe in a higher power. I agree with Cordellias Mom, I want to hear the story about the 6 teenagers!

    Like

  3. Paul says:

    Ha! Thanks for your compliment and enthusiasm PFG. That one was pretty “in your face” and I chose it (and even the title) so as not to exclude anyone who didn’t believe. But I am here to tell you that when you take that story apart and live it moment by moment, it fairly oozed “serendipity” in all the details. And the other thing that happened was that there were some directly linked “negatives” that occurred as a result. In the long run it turned out even these negatives were for the best but were not things I would have chosen if I had had a choice. The result is when God taps you on the shoulder and says “excuse me”, grit your teeth before you turn around because you are going to have to face some pretty hard truths.

    Like

  4. Doobster418 says:

    Okay, Paul. Two guest posts in one day. You are all over the interwebs today. I enjoyed this post, even though I’m an atheist. I, too, earned my master’s degree by going to school at night while working full time and I know what an accomplishment that is. Good for you.

    Like

    • You beat me to it, Doobster. I was going to comment on your post about Paul’s double-posting. But they’re both great posts, and we can never get enough of Paul’s writing.

      For those who missed Paul’s post on Doobster’s blog, here’s the link: http://mindfuldigressions.com/2014/11/06/of-breasts-and-bananas/

      Like

    • Paul says:

      Hey Doob! Shhh, don’t let Doob know I’m double posting. Oh, wait, you are Doob – uh oh. Actually, CM asked me a month ago to do this post – she’s very organized and had the date set up and everything (actually she gave me a choice of dates and I selected one). Then you picked up on a comment I made on your post and asked me to elaborate. CM’s post was pretty much in the can – we were just doing final editing, back and forth – so there was no conflict. I was actually surprised myself when i realized that they were both due to be published on the same day. Ain’t that life though?

      Thanks so much for dropping by for a read Doob. Your thoughts are always valuable to me.

      Like

  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    I mean no offense, but – color me skeptical. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Ha! It’s good that you’re skeptical Jim – imagine what a messed up world we would have if we took everyone at their word. I didn’t think anyone would believe this so I actually kept the envelope from the church with the postage cancellation date and all. And i did make it clear that my intellect had no clue what this was about – you could even say that my reasoning centers were skeptical and still are, to be honest – it makes no sense. But I can assure you that i was as honest as i could be when I recounted the story here. And the shit that i got into while doing the degree was not normal – and I was just looking to get through it, not to create any waves. The executive director resigned in shame, the president was fired, the assistant executive director moved to another universuty. And I was mixed up in the whole thing. I almost got thrown out twice. Don’t get me wrong, this university and its profs are amongst the best in the world – they are stellar. The administration was seriously bad. I won’t say any more but they cleaned house and the new administration is excellent as is befitting of the quality of the professors and the cirriculum. There is a lot more, but suffice it to say that i seemed to act as a catalyst – I did very little except to encourage those who had valid complaints. I still have no idea if this was what it was all about – i’m only guessing.

      I can assure you that i have stuck to the facts in the recounting of the story. Thanks so much for the read and the comment Jim.

      Like

      • What an interesting reply. I’m intrigued. Will this be the subject of a follow-up post in December? (or sooner, if you wish)

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        • Paul says:

          Actually CM, I’d like to do the 6 teenager post next – it gives a slightly different view on the world. If that’s OK with you.

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          • Pretty much anything you write is OK with me. I would even have published the post you did for Doobster (although I might have blushed a bit while doing so).

            Like

          • Archon's Den says:

            I’d like to read them both, but definitely the saved teens please. 🙂

            Like

            • Paul says:

              Thanks for the read Archon. I’d be delighted to do the 6 teen story. It’s not very long (this post clocked in at over 2,000 words even though I tried to cut it – I try to aim for 1,000) and requires that the reader believe that I felt what I felt. I choose Serendipity because it had hard verifiable outside facts that could, if one desired, be checked and proved. 6 teens is not verifiable but paints a very real picture of outcome and reason.

              To be honest with you I doubt that I’d go any further with the Queen’s story. The problem is that a number of key players in what amounted to a mutiny are still unknown (to the world at large and specifically to the staff and academics). There was a witch hunt at the time to find out who did what, that had such earth-shaking results and even my e-mail was monitored (I know because I was working in IT for a while and i recruited some experts to track down what was happening when my e-mail was being delayed. We ran a bunch of tests and discovered what was going on – compared to other student e-mails.) It got very very nasty – bad people don’t let go of power easily (and some were just stupid and naive when it came to power structures – and ended up as collateral damage). To be honest, the whole thing is better written off as a done deal. There are a few very brave people who put their careers on the line who should remain nameless. There is still -after all these years – some of the old guard left who could make trouble if they chose. I don’t want to give them an opportunity.

              The institution and the staff and academics are exemplary – I could not imagine any better. I’d be driving to class and hear a breaking business story on the news, and when I settled in my seat in class, the prof would start off with that same story – with background, analysis, discussion. It was mind boggling. they would even beat the news sometimes. And they were very real in everything they did – few high-faluting theories (although thise abound,they were avoided) and many down to earth real applications and outcomes. We even studied the great business failures and how and why. We had guest lecturers who had personally failed their companies and that must have been hard – stand in front of the class and discuss your failures.

              Anyway, that’s a lot of words to say that I will likely do the 6 teens story next. Thanks so much for dropping by

              Like

  6. willowdot21 says:

    Brilliant peace Paul sometimes some things are just meant to be!

    Like

  7. suzjones says:

    Another great read Paul. I too believe some things happen for a reason and I’ve had my share of those things occurring over the past two weeks.

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    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much Suz! Yes, we appear to flit along through life making our own decisions and being masters of our own destinies but then every now and then we get a glimpse of something a lot bigger than ourselves, something that seems behind it all. And , of course, that awareness disappears again, and we’re left to apparently struggle along alone again. I have other stories like this one that have convinced me that there is an organization here that we take for granted. I don’t consider myslef religious but believe in a higher intelligence? Absolutely.

      I hope that ll works out for you – it can be confusing sometomes. Thanks for the read and the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. LindaGHill says:

    Incredible – but I do believe the universe somehow gives us what we’re meant to have. As amazing as this is, I’m not really surprised.
    At the same time, Paul, I have to tell you I have a connection to Queen’s in Kingston… through the novel I’m writing. I love Kingston and I visit there as often as I can. It’s where my characters live. I, too, have a feeling that something there has already happened. Serendipity indeed. If you search my site for “Kingston,” you may get a better sense of what I mean.
    Thank you for this, both for sharing your story and on a personal level as well. 😀

    Like

  9. Paul says:

    Thank You Linda for the support. I’m very new to this blogging world. I will search Kingston on your site. It is interesting when we put oursleves out there for no particualar reason (or for personal reasons), how often it connects with, or makes a personal sense to others. That part of writing has quite surprised me. It is as if there is this myriad of connectons just below the surface, that attaches everyone of us to everyone else. To a certain extent, I have believed for sometime that we are all a part of something larger, but this makes it very personal.

    Thanks again for dropping by for a read Linda, I greatly appreciate it.

    Like

  10. markbialczak says:

    The power that is wanted Queens for you, the MBA for you, this particular lesson for you, all of it for you, Paul. I am not skeptical at all.

    Something was afoot, indeed.

    Thank you for sharing this tale of wonder at your age of 40 with us now. You needed to tell it and we needed to hear it.

    (Cordelia’s Mom, yes, I agree with your editor’s note. And thank you for allowing Paul this your spiffy forum.)

    Paul, please get typing again. I know from our digital relationship that you’ve already been thinking about it!

    You are quite a storyteller. Keep going, please, while the muse is on your shoulder. Now I’m off to click guest blog two in a single day for you. You HAVE to get your own blog, Paul Curran.

    Like

    • Nah, he doesn’t need to get his own blog if he’s guest posting for several of us. As we all know, maintaining a blog can be a royal pain in the ass – this way Paul gets to have all the fun of writing, without the rest of the work involved. And I am very, very happy to have him guest posting for me.

      Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks Mark! So glad you could stop for a visit. Thank you so much for the compliments. I’m hoping to get writing down to a habit and see what happens. I’ll work at that blog. But don’t worry C.M., I’ll still guest post. A tip of my hat to CM and yourself, Mark> and others who have graciously given me the space and time to guest blog. You guys are the best.

      I’m honored that you dropped by Mark and I hope this is just the beginning. Thank You.

      Like

  11. idiotwriter says:

    Cool story Paul. 😉
    ALMOST makes me want to get an MBA…almost!

    Like

  12. Paul says:

    Bwahaha! I still have no idea why i had to do it. Strange world we live in Belinda. You’ll do well in university – you know I support that 100%. It will make sense to you but I bet you’ll drive the profs nuts – I know I did. there is an enormous amount to be said for the school of hard knocks and that will benefit you more than you can know (bunch of fresh faced kids with no clue what really makes the world go around – you’ll be teaching them Belinda. When we were in Kingston i used to get up early to go outside and have a coffee by myself while reviewing the days lessons and I seemed to attract a posse who would gather around and listen raptly to my opinon while others asked questions – ha! Poor bastards.)

    Anyway, thanks for the read and the compliments – it is great to see you visiting – I know how busy you are right now and how precious your time is. thanks again.

    Like

  13. kerbey says:

    Without getting churchy on you, Paul, this was obviously a God thing, and you listened to that still small (very very almost silent) voice inside that was pushing you to a new level, first through double shots of Crown, as is His way, and with the allure of blue and brown (sea and sky, my friend). I have heard too many stories of folks receiving TO THE PENNY what they had prayed for, or more often, what they were needing, to every disbelieve. It is an awful thing to go through life not believing in the miraculous provision, so congratulations to you. Now I have to go back to my rocket science…

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Ha! Thanks Kerbey – yes there is no doubt that the “voice” is God. I have a great deal of faith but don’t go to church much and have no religion that i support. I wanted to write something that laid out a true personal story without getting religious. I too have seen others who can and do follow that voice with basically no qualms and it works out – often. It does make life much easier when you can see it in the context of somehting much larger than yourself.

      Thanks so much for taking the time from your nuclear physics to drop by Kereby 😉 Ha! It is an honor to have you here.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You did not know. I had been planning on asking you to tell this story on my blog. You inspired a series for which I so wanted to share this tale.

    Well, at least you obviously know how I feel about this story.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hi Diana! I’m so glad you dropped by. I didn’t know you wanted this – i can easily tell another equally real story as good, if you want. You’re blog is a bit different than CM’s. Here i stuck to a lot of external provable facts for readers who have not yet found the joy of feeling they are a part of something much bigger. A lot of physical evidence. You have gathered a group of followers who, it appears to me, come to your blog with the foreknowledge of faith and that it may very well be discussed and even when it isn’t it still is a part of the foundation of the blog – indeed, of you. That being said, I could easily relate a faith based story that would fit well with your followers, if you so chose.

      Thank you for the compliment. I must say i am surprised and pleased that you enjoyed this post. I am honored that you joined us here. Thank You Diana. I hope that all is well with you and your family. Please drop by again when you have a chance (I know you are very busy).

      Like

      • I never intended to build a typical Christian blog and didn’t want a “Christian audience”. I’m going to guess that I have more nonChristian readers than otherwise. But you nailed it, as always.

        “and that it may very well be discussed and even when it isn’t it still is a part of the foundation of the blog – indeed, of you.”

        I’ve found it it remarkable that no matter where they sit on the faith spectrum, they come and decide to stay. I did notice the slant you took on this. All right, I’ll be in touch to see what you can share, though I can’t promise I’ll use it. Not sure when, though. Yes, lots on my plate.

        Cheers,
        D.

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        • Paul says:

          I’ve never asked for any promises from you Diana and please note that although you put it in quotes – I did not use the words ” Christian audience”. If you think of my writing as being for a “Christian audience” then it likely best that I don’t post on your blog. Thanks anyway.

          Like

          • ?? Huh? I know you didn’t use those words and that you never asked for promises. They were my words. I’m confused. What I saw was answered prayer in the story you sent me way back, and it had inspired me to do a faith series.

            Like

          • I was simply sharing, Paul, riding on your observations of my readership. And the word on promises is a disclaimer I put up with all potential guests for the fact that I’d have to see something concrete first. My comment had borne no assumptions about you.

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  15. ksbeth says:

    this is an amazing tale, paul. one i can identify with, on a very personal basis. i changed my life in a similar manner – great piece )

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for dropping by Beth. I guess I have known since I started reading your blog that you have seen a few things in life. Your joy in life and positive perspective are a pretty big part of what you write. And a very contagious part as well. Many a time i’ve marvelled at your words and pictures. Thank you so so mch for stopping by to read, it means a great deal to me. Amd thank you for the compliment – please drop by again.

      Like

  16. Aussa Lorens says:

    I’ve experienced similar sorts of impulses and am almost always glad that I follow them– I’m curious to hear what you ended up doing with the MBA…

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hey Aussa! Thanks so much for dropping by. I was working as a business analyst for a while , did a bit of private consulting but I missed trucking. I drove tanker for a while and then was Regional Safety Director for a tanker company. Then i got sick. I think the purpose was more what happened during the process of the degree – but obviously that is hard to be sure of.

      I appreciate you dropping by Aussa. It’s a pleasure to see you here.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. BerLinda says:

    Wow, that’s pretty amazing! Don’t ask, don’t get 🙂

    Like

  18. Paul says:

    Hi Linda! Thanks so much for dropping by with a read and a comment. Yes, apparently asking is the way to go. I wouldn’t normally go as far as I did though if I had not known so clearly that i was doing the MBA. i’m normally pretty shy when it comes to asking people for cash – but it seems there is a time and place. Thanks again for the visit and please come back again sometime.

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  19. DAMN! That is one compelling brochure! Whoever created that Queens MBA brochure did a brilliant job practically manipulating your mind — and the Church deacon — and the quilting ladies — and your boss — and GOD — to make your dream come true! What an amazing story, Paul! I loved it and you wrote it so well, I felt like I was right there, beside you, trying to figure out how to finance that MBA! So cool!

    Like

    • Paul says:

      That’s true, eh? I didn’t ask you Darcy : Lady, do you have $57,500 that I can borrow? There, now you don’t have to feel left out. Ha! Thanks so much for dropping by for a visit Darcy. it is such a pleasure to see you here. I’m glad you enjoyed the story and I thank you for the compliment. To get the story into post size I kept it focussed, but i have to tell you when i lived it, there were so, so many details that, in retrospect, fairly dripped “serendipity”. For instance, my company had demolished their existing store in order to rebuild bigger and better. Meanwhile they set up a small temporary store in the downtown core (it’s a small town – maybe 10,000 people) which i wanted to see in order to understand what they considered their prime products when doing a stripped down version of the store. Of all the places in the whole town, the ladies had set up their card table and quilt to sell tickets right in front of our company’s temporary store. As if, in hindsight, it was put there deliberately so I wouldn’t miss it. Everything that had to do with this whole 20 + month journey had a sort of otherworldliness about it. It was very surreal, believe me.

      Awesome to see you here Darcy, I thank you very much and I hope you’ll come by again sometime.

      Like

      • That is incredible, Paul. I’m glad this extra bit of information got into the post through your comment. You definitely had an angel on your shoulder during the whole thing.

        Like

        • Paul says:

          It was eye-opening CM, for sure. And those types of small details popped up everyday, day in and day out. For instance the Ottawa classroom was set up like the coliseum – with each row of seats a bit higher than the one ahead of it. i was assigned a seat for the whole course , that was ithe upper right corner – which was great as i could come and go though the back door without bothering anyone. It was a 56 seat class room so it wasn’t too big. In order to encourage discussions and such, the ceiling was wired with microphones and speakers so that anyone could speak in conversational tones and everyone could hear them. I sat directly under a microphone and had to be careful because every burp would be amplified and broadcast thorugh the classroom. The profs encouraged questions and discussions and as soon as a discussion was started, anyone could speak without raising a hand or being picked by the prof. I used to give the profs a hard time when they made statements that i disagreed with and had some knowledge of. So, for instance when our HR prof got into truck drivers’ log books (that i worked with daily), he made some assumptions and I corrected him, and such. Anyway, during graduation my Mum came down to Kingston and there was a mixer where i had a chance to introduce the HR prof (one of my favorites) to my Mother. The prof said to my Mum(who was also retired prof); “Oh, yes, and we would be discussing a topic and then a booming voice would come from all the corners of the room at once, sounding eerily like God had just spoken, and it would be Paul.” Bwahahaha! After a few mistakes, i realized how I was coming across and kept my mouth shut unless I was sure or had a question to ask.

          Like

  20. This is such a frickin’ amazing story, Paul. I actually teared up a couple of times around the sense of a heavy job to do with no apparent resources. Been there, done that! It was the answers for that though, that brought the tears. I am in the middle of needing to remember this, and your note to come read this was a little serendipitous itself! Loved this story!
    P.S. Yes, I agree with CM, we must hear about the rescue.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thank You so very much Robyn. I am honored that you dropped by to read and leave a comment. I hadn’t really looked at the story from that perspective (as a resource management problem) – and I see that you are right. It is an amazing and surreal occurrence when it happens this way, isn’t it? We will be given the resouces we need to do what we need, even if it is only for the asking. I’m glad that the story has relevance in your life. As a new writer, I find it’s pretty amazing soemtimes how stpries are often relevant to individuals in a manner that is incomprehensible to the author.

      Like

      • Well, Paul, maybe you haven’t noticed how a few of us have responded to your comments on our own pages. You do seem to come on in at just the right time, with just the right words… 🙂

        Like

  21. Scott says:

    Awesome, Paul! Congrats on getting accepted and funded for your MBA!!

    Like

  22. Paul says:

    Thanks Scott. That was a few years ago, so it is done now. I really appreciate you dropping by for a read and to leave a comment. It was challenging and interesting time.

    Like

  23. Well, if you’re going to impulse-purchase something, you could do a lot worse than an MBA from a good school. Nice work. And a nice piece. I wish I had done that when I was 40. It shouldn’t be so damn expensive to better yourself. It seems grotesque and unfair.

    I recently heard an interview with Willie Nelson, who I love, and he said anytime he gets writer’s block, he gets in the car and just drives. Cures it every time.

    Like

  24. Paul says:

    Ha! Impulse buy – love it. Yep, I was standing in the line at the grocery store and there it was, right beside the National Enquirer – the Queen’s MBA. Ha! It was a lot like that wasn’t it Mark? Thanks so much for dropping by, for the read, and for the comment. It’s great to see you around again, I was wondering if you were OK. Driving really get my thoughts going. Iy’s like a goiant belder that whirrs everyhing together – definitely gets the Mojo going.

    I greatly appreciate your visit Mark – please feel free to drop by anytime. 🙂

    Like

  25. ~ Sadie ~ says:

    Paul – I absolutely loved this – the way you told the story, and the story that you told!! I believe in God and destiny, and I have learned over the years that sometimes it is many years before we understand the ways & means of certain events and how they may or may not tie into other things. I love your storytelling and would be most interested in hearing about the six teenagers whose lives you saved 🙂 BTW – driving is one of my favorite ways to get a handle on something going on inside my head, too; I crank that music and get real introspective!
    GREAT post, my friend!! ❤

    Thanks again Cordelia's Mom for hosting Paul! 🙂

    Like

  26. Paul says:

    Thanks so much Sadie! I really appreciate the compliments and I am honored that you dropped by to visit. It’s true that hind sight seems to work best in complex happenings like this. Driving for me is the best way to think. I am happy that you enjoyed the story – stay tuned for more….

    Like

  27. anawnimiss says:

    What a beautiful, inspiring story, Paul! It is amazing how destiny conspires to give you what you don’t even realize you need/want. 🙂

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thank you so much for dopping by Ana. Yes, there is no question in my mind that there is a higher organizing force in the universe. I can’t speak to religion, as i’ve never done well with religion – I find them all too exclusive, i.e. were going to heaven and you’re going to hell because you don’t believe as we do. It does not sit well with me as I believe all life is precious.

      I am honored that you came to visit and I’m happy that you enjoyed the story. Please come by again.

      Like

  28. Trent Lewin says:

    Fantastic story Paul – and true to boot! I’m glad there’s some decency in the world, and that your workplace had the sense to facilitate your MBA. I know many who’ve passed through that particular program – it’s a legendary degree around here.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for dropping by Trent! it is a very amazing experience and the students add a great deal to it as well. We had students from all walks of life and many countries (for those for whom English wasn’t a first language, there was a proficiency test as a part of admissions – so everyone spoke English well – along with about 30 or more other languages). The stories about business in the discussions were classic. For example. we complained about overtime and one German national who worked for a major tech firm, had been fined for working after 5 pm – the German police had a unit that cruised the business sectors and fined anyone they found working after certain hours (unless it was shift work of course). We had miitary officers, PHD’s who owned their own companies, a number of Chinese nationals, Real Estate specialists, officers from Foreign Aid, British nationals who were here selling helicopters to the gov’t and decided to do an MBA at Queen’s while here. etc. etc. Oh, and we had a detective for the Ottawa police, an IBM VP, space engineers, and so on. It was not possible to start a discussion without it taking off with examples from other countries and workplaces. And regardless of the topic the prof was lecturing unless it was exactly the prof’s PHD topic, someone somehwere in the room knew the topic better than the prof. This kept the profs on their toes, believe me.

      It was without a doubt a life changing experience. And there was no end to the responsiveness of the profs – anything you wanted to discuss or any material you wanted , you had it. One student complained in passing that a particular subject wasn’t well covered in the texts we had – and the next class we all had another brand new text on our desk – to keep – that the prof said he thought explained it better. We had our Saturday lunch catered by some of the best restaurants in Ottawa and even the coffee that was always on, was the best of the best. It was mind-blowing. We were spoiled. Mind you we were also expected to produce a lot of work in a short time and many nights went wthout sleep.

      Anyway, Trent, if you ever get a chance to do this program, take it – you will never regret it. (You’ll wonder what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into, but it is well worth it.)

      Thanks again for the read Trent, it is a pleasure to see you here.

      Like

      • Trent Lewin says:

        Yeah I’ve heard so much about that exec program… including the legend that everyone who graduates gets a job that pays off the tuition in no time. I would love to do an MBA, and if I did, it would be that one for sure. I feel a bit overdone through the education system thought – slightly cooked and casually braised, topped off with a skewer or two in all the worst places. Bascially, I’ve spent so much dang time in school already, and now with the little un’s around, I’m loathe to go back just yet. Maybe one day. I do love school – had the best times, even though I was poor as dirt and drunk as… well, a student.

        Great story Paul, really. To reiterate, isn’t it about time you started your own blog home? I would definitely be there.

        Like

        • Paul says:

          It does take a lot of energy and is not very friendly to marriages. On the bright side – it is well lubricated with alcohol if you so choose. Ha! Some of my best drinking stories are from my time in the MBA.

          It is my intention to start a blog, but I need to upgrade my hardware and software first. I work on an old laptop runnng XP. Everytime i try to start up a blog, it freezes and I get warning messages from WP that my browser needs up grading. It won’t upgrade any futher – lack of memory and computing power.

          Thanks again for dropping by Trent – always a pleasure.

          Liked by 1 person

  29. julie says:

    Paul. Paul. Paul-No-Blog. This was a fabulous read! (not that I am surprised one little bit) When I started reading I thought you were doing fiction, but I soon got sucked in, and realized this was a real story from your real life. I have no issues with God and share many of your beliefs stated. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school until 8th grade. I have some issues with the religions as well but there is no doubt in my mind that there is a supreme being and I think that is evident each day if we can manage to keep our eyes open but more often than not we are too involved with our existence to see or hear these mini miracles. You are a talented story teller, I too want to read more. I want to know about the teenagers. I knew you would be good at this by the comments I have seen you leave places we both frequent. Thanks to this post I now have MORE blogs that I want to look into. You guys. I need to work you know. What an amazing bunch of commentors just on this single post! Perhaps your blog could just be simple, links to places you are guest posting??

    Now to go read the one by Doobsters place….

    Like

  30. Paul says:

    Julie, Julie, Julie , Oh Julie-No-Blog. Ha! you are funny. i’d have let you know where i was guest posting but you don’t have a blog – Tsk, Tsk. When ARE you getting a blog? ha!

    Thanks so much for dropping by Julie! I always get a hoot from your comments – very well stated and light hearted and positive. I am honored that you chose to visit. Yes, paying attention to life as it goes by certainly shows up some descrepancies and listening to your heart shows solutions to sometimes otherwise unsovable problems. There us a lot more here than most think. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

    I’m glad you enjoted this post and i hope you come back for more visits.

    Like

    • julie says:

      Well, Paul-No-Blog, when you get your blog and I know where it is I will have even less time for a blog! Besides, I found you anyway so there’s that too. And you could have just emailed me. Or called. but no. So you see, you can run, but you can’t hide. 🙂

      Like

  31. So you’re going to keep us hanging on what happened in the end?

    It’s definitely a big coincidence to have all that fall into place. It’s funny how some things just strike you and then they just work out.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Ho Bronwyn! thanks so much for dropping by. Indeed it is interesting how things work out. I usually depend mostly on logical thought processes but I try to be open to other inputs. There is definitely a side of life that is non-rational (as opposed to irrational). i’m not sure there is an “end” to this story per se. Many of the best stories are like that, aren’t they?

      I’m so honored that you chose to come and visit – thanks again Bronwyn.

      Like

      • Oh, but there must be an ending? How did you end up using the degree? What was its purpose??

        Like

        • Paul says:

          There were so many changes in my life during and after the degree, that I don’t think it is possible to nail down any one thing. Take a look at my responses to Jim Wheeler and Archon’s Den above and you’ll get some idea of what i mean.

          When I was asked that question “WHY?” by the senioir VP where I worked, the best i could explain was that i felt as if I were running towards a cliff and the MBA was a rope that i had to get before I got to the edge of the cliff or I would fall over. And, in fact the year after the MBA I was diagnosed with cancer and then kidney failure and so on. There is no doubt, in hindsight, that that was the last possible time slot that the MBA could have fit into my life. It continues to change ny life in many ways – and that was 12 years ago – so i’m not quite sure how to answer your question. In fact a great deal of the writing skills that i am exhibiting here I owe to the MBA. The reading/writing requirements of the course were overwhelming. i used to read easy 400-600 pages a day and still have to prioritize because I’d could never get it all done.

          I am pleased that you enjoyed the post.

          Like

          • I do know what you mean about being difficult to set out neatly sometimes. Taking the last chance – that makes a lot of sense to me.

            And I’ve no doubt about the reading/writing requirements, either! What’s that they say about ten thousand hours?

            Like

            • Paul says:

              Ha! yes, you can be considered an expert when you’ve spent 10,000 hours in a particular area or field or endeavor. I suspect you are a few years younger than i Bronwyn so although you are no doubt an expert in some areas that you have chosen (i.e. vet medicine, marriage, child rearing, and likely a few others), it is funny as you grow older. how you add expert status in strange things that seem to keep appearing in your life. Such is the mystery of life.

              I’m pleasd that it makes sense to you as it does not fit well into the world of rationality. Howwver it was no doubt exactly the right thing to do at the right time if perhaps for non-rational reasons.

              Like

              • Well I guess it depends what you call “rational” as well. Maybe not “economic” in a strictly monetary sense, but it terms of “making life meaningful” or some such other goal it could be entirely understandable.

                Like

                • Paul says:

                  Mmmm, I generally define “rational” as being able to be described by logic. There is a whole section of life that is just as real but cannot be described by logic – such as love, fulfillment, faith, some emotions, and so on. I label that “non-rational”. Then there is irrational, which is making decisions or accepting as fact, that which is demonstratably and experiencially incorrect. The opposite of rational. Non- rational is not theopposite of rational but rather a co-concept that in combination better describes reality. Those are my definitions actually as the dictionary doesn’t differentiate between them very well., and i found that i needed a means to separate them.

                  Like

  32. Best case of serendipity that I’ve read in a long time. Great piece. Glad Julie Julie no blog sent me to this via the Grand Mr. Lewin… Six degrees eh?

    Like

  33. Paul says:

    Welcome UCW! It’s great to see you here for a visit. Yes, the post covers the main serendipitous activity (Hmmm, sounds like UFO activity) and yet I can tell you that the details kept on turning up equally amazing. For 20 months the unusual stuff just kept happening.

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the piece UCW and I thank Julie for recommending it. Julie’s like a bee, flitting from blog to blog, and pollinating where-ever she goes. Ha! Buzzzz, Buzzz, Buzzz. I am honored that you could find the time to drop by for a read and to leave a comment. Please come again UCW.

    Like

  34. The Hook says:

    A Higher Power is at work, Paul.
    Let it flow.
    Wonderful post, my friend.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      That was my take too Hook. Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and a comment. I greatly appreciate the compliment. Please drop by again.

      Like

  35. List of X says:

    Interesting story… Since I’m an atheist, my instinct is to qualify all of it as serendipity rather than God’s will 🙂
    And I’m still left wondering – so had your wife gone into the MBA program, or did you two think that one MBA in the family is enough? 🙂

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Welcome X. Actually, that is an interesting question. She did do the MBA, except her company placed her in the Ottawa U program – the “other” MBA – Ha! Typically such an investment of money and time and commitment takes some thinking, so she started the following year. For a year we were both doing MBA’s at different universities, I was in my final year and she was in her first year. It was intense, believe me. We used to consult with each other unofficially on projects, presentations, etc. She had a much more balanced sense of presentation than I did. Unfortunately, our 12 year relationship did not survive the double MBA. and we separated. I don’t know if two MBA’s in one house could ever survive. Ha! It would make a good reality TV program – as long as the audience could stomache the flying blood and body parts. Just kidding! 🙂

      Like

  36. Ok Paul I found the guest post. Now to see if I can find the blog.

    Like

    • You found “the blog”, OM. Paul doesn’t have one of his own, yet – he guest posts on mine instead.

      (Well, sometimes he also guest posts for Doobster, but that doesn’t count, ’cause we all know my blog is so much more entertaining.)

      Like

      • I was seeing if he finally made one. Oh well, he writes very well. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

        Like

        • Paul says:

          Thanks so much for dropping by OM. I am honored. **bows deeply** I greatly appreciate the read and the comment. I am running an old laptop with XP and insufficient power or memory to start a blog. I have tried and it freezes up and i get WP warning messages requiring an update that I cannot do. I am saving my pennies for an upgraded computer. Meanwhile I am relying on the kindness of other bloggers who have asked if I want to guest post. I don’t write regularly yet and that is something I have to address. Thanks again for the visit Jason.

          Like

  37. Pingback: THE TEENS (Guest Post by Paul Curran) | Cordelia's Mom, Still

  38. Pingback: Spam-Bam Thank You Ma’am (December 2014) | Cordelia's Mom, Still

  39. Paul says:

    That is very true Karen. There is a problem though. The problem is that as soon as a perspective employer sees that I am handicapped and am a dialysis patient, they back away quickly. I’ve put out over 500 resumes, had dozens of phone interviews and many face to face interviews with no success. I am very good at what I do and interview well. Partly because I have interviewed so many during my time. the issues are my handicaps(as a result of dialysis), my health issues and my age (I’m 57 this year). There is nothing wrong with my brain and I don’t need any special considerations at work (I move slower). I can’t get a job. There is no potential health care liability as my issues are all covered by our gov’t plan here in Canada.

    If you have any ideas, i’d be happy to entertain them. Thanks so much for dropping by, i am honored that you enjoyed the post.

    Like

  40. THIS was some serious limb climbing Paul. I’m sitting here amazed. But have to run into work. Thank you for sharing this with me. I have to read it again after work. By the way, I can see why your writing is Harvard level. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      **Bows with honor** Thank you so very much Colleen: that is an incredible compliment. And thank you for dropping by for a read and comment. 😀 I do sometimes find myself out on a limb.

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Wow – what a story! What a testimony of a life walked in challenge but leading to fulfillment! I look forward to hearing the rest of the story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thank you so very much for dropping by Mich. As with all things God related, the reasons never became clear. One thing I did tell the VP Finance while we were discussing the MBA as we made arrangements when he asked why I was doing an MBA – I said that it felt like I was running across a field and I was going to come to a huge cliff that I had to go down and the MBA was the rope I needed to scale the cliff. I had no idea what the metaphor meant – I just knew I had to act on it. Sure enough, within a few months of completing the program, I was diagnosed with cancer and health issues would have precluded my ever doing the degree afterwards. Another factor seemed to be the political situation at the university. The professors were being abused by the director and the executive director of the School of Business. Their ideas were being summarily dismissed and they were being threatened that if they said anything they would be terminated and blackballed. It was being run like a fiefdom. I ended up befriending a number of profs and their stories were identical – they were being psychologically abused. I met with a number of prof on the QT and encouraged them to organize and speak out. I started getting threatening calls from the Exec Director saying that if i continued to meet with profs that I would be expelled from the MBA program. Even though my marks were excellent and I had the support of the professors. It was very amusing Mich because, of course,I wasn’t there to do a degree – likely the only student they ever met who wasn’t – I was there because God wanted me there. It occurred to me that being expelled for doing the right thing would be something He might easily encourage, So, I was comfortable laughing at the Exec Director when he threatened. I told him that if he felt that was the right thing to do then he should do just that – expel me for meeting with the professors.. That scared the hell out of them – I suspect they thought it was some kind of a trap and I was a plant – encouraging them to act in an abusive manner as evidence. They backed off fast and started monitoring my e-mail.I worked in IT at the time and noticed suspicious delays in my school e-mail. I took it to the work IT team, network directory and director of security and asked them to check it out – they pinged the servers at school and told me the e-mails were being collected in an alternate server and scanned using a program called Raptor – used by big organizations to check internal e-mail surreptitiously. I switched to using non-school e-mails for communication – most profs and students had personal e-mails through their work or Hotmail.

      Anyway, to make a long story short, before I was done the profs decided to go to a major national business newspaper with the story. It broke in February of 2002, my grad year, and the stories of manipulation and abuse were rampant. The university cleaned house and as quietly as possible, terminated the Director of the School of business, the Executive Director, and a number of their flunkies. I was asked for my input (one of many) in the choice of a new director. The new director was very sensitive to the needs of the professors. This may seem like the petty complaints of a small group but it was not. The School is one of the two top schools in Canada that had on staff some of the best profs in the world. My contribution to all this was simply one of encouragement and organization – and to act as a lightning rod for the administration . The professors did all the work and they were very brave. I often wondered if perhaps one or more had prayed for intervention in the abuse and God sent me as an answer. Not that I did anything – I just encouraged them. The thing was that the newspaper was notified of the story anonymously and the administration was sure that I had done it – and although I hadn’t, the story is still to this day that I did. This took the heat off the professors and allowed them to talk without being accused of starting anything.

      Anyway my life gets een more complex after that Mich and all is well. I see I have turned this comment into a post again – sorry!

      Like

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