Holiday Inn, Denton Texas, September 1965: James Cato was a cajun from Lake Charles, Louisiana. He had a wooden leg from his youth. He and a friend were drinking beer in the street outside a bar, when a speeding car lost control. James pushed his friend out of the way, but his leg was crushed between a parked car and the speeding car. So he was crippled for life.
He’d played guitar at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, once upon a time, when Elvis was there. James was certain that Elvis was a tee-totaller. “I’ve got my first time,” he said, “to see him take a drink.”
At the Holiday Inn, a guy named Fred Kahler had been brought in as manager from the Lake Charles Holiday Inn, owned by the same folks as built the one in Denton Texas. Fred Kahler brought in James Cato from Lake Charles to be the night auditor in the Denton Holiday Inn. One day I asked James about how he added everything up, and he told me about it. I puzzled.
“How do you know you’re right?” I asked. He gaped at me.
“You *got* to trust yourself,” he said.
Now as it happened, one day James Cato told the manager and Ron the Assistant Manager, that he was going to go back to Lake Charles, in three weeks. They did nothing. He told them again. They did nothing. He told them again. They did nothing.
So in three weeks he left, and they ran about in circles, waving their arms, wailing what where they going to do?
I stood up. “I can do it,” I said.
And as it turned out, I figured it out on my own, and then I was no longer the bellboy, but the night auditor. Which turned out pretty good because it was a trade which helped me in many places and over many years to come. But that’s another story.
The point is, that when I was doing the bookkeeping on the Night Audit, I knew to trust myself.
Even though, in life, in love, in matters of ethics, and money, and getting along, I didn’t trust myself at all. Second-guessing, worrying, obsessing, carrying on imaginary conversations about what would happen. Solving problems that didn’t even exist. All of it.
Only now, way later, have I somehow learned … you got to trust yourself.
Otherwise, you’re crippled. Don’t know what you’re seeing. Don’t know where to move. Can’t plan. Can’t operate. Frozen in time and space, and spinning like a drunken elephant.
The Scientology guy, L. Ron Hubbard, said, “Knowingness is not data. Knowingness is certainty.”
I didn’t know what the hell that meant. But now I do.
It means you got to trust yourself. You can only operate by assuming certainty. That’s not saying you *have* certainty. That’s saying that you *assume* certainty. You decide to trust yourself.
And if your path proves wrong, no problem. You choose another path, and assume certainty about that.
And life unfolds, step by step, and you can move freely, striding into that becoming future, with a clear heart and a happy mind.
Because there’s no option. You got to trust yourself.
Thank you, James Cato.
It’s funny how we leave our mark on time, how a chance sentence can change a life, and ripple down through time, becoming a theme and a pattern, emerging as a life force, as if the faery world had cast a spell upon five words, embedding an unfolding spiderweb of fate, pregnant and awaiting expansion in an unwary mind, a seed fallen upon the one fertile spot on the distant slope of a barren mountain, and when the season is right, there a flower grows, beautiful, meaningful, seen by few, and loved by the one who sees it.
Thank you, James Cato.