Simon Potter was a "ragpicker" and salvager of human lives. When this wise and humble man departed from life, he left author Og Mandino a precious legacy: the distilled wisdom of his unique collection of the greatest books about self-motivation and success--books he called "hand of God" books because they seemed to have been written with God's hand guiding the author's own.
In this tender and inspiring book, Og shares with his millions of readers his old friend's bequest. It is nothing less than a blueprint for success, telling us in plain language exactly what we must do to mount the seven rungs of life's ladder--from material achievement and worldly success to the highest spiritual development. Whatever your most cherished dream may be, Og and his good angel Simon will show you the way to bring it within reach.
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|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
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Memories. I can still hear his gentle but deep voice saying the words as if they had been spoken just this morning instead of so very long ago.
“How our earth was created and hangs suspended in space or how our minds and bodies repeatedly perform their daily miraculous functions is most difficult to comprehend but the greatest mystery still confronting mankind is that despite all the tools that God provided, both mental and physical, so much of humanity continues to stumble along the rocky paths of failure and sorrow, poverty, and despair.”
More than twenty years have passed since I first heard that wise declaration and yet I am certain that the sentence, despite its length, is being quoted to you verbatim. It was spoken by a wise old man, Simon Potter, whom I first met one snowy morning in the parking lot behind the building in north Chicago that housed the magazine I headed, Success Unlimited. He was feeding pigeons from a large brown paper bag as I slowly pulled into the lot and our initial brief greeting that morning was the beginning of a relationship that has affected my entire life.
Following that first meeting, in the mid-seventies, Simon and I soon became close friends. Very often, after a long and pressure-packed day of trying to run a national publication, with all of its challenges, I would walk wearily through the dingy parking lot, enter the old stone building across the street, climb the stairway to his second-story apartment, number 21, and visit with the old man before the long drive to my suburban home. His wise advice and counsel, always served with a glass of white sherry, often helped me to relax and see my problems in a more rational light, and I’m certain that his loving thoughts and wisdom have often been reflected in my work and how I’ve tried to deal with the world since those memorable days, long ago.
Simon’s tiny three-room apartment, clean and dust-free, had one distinguishing feature. Books! Books everywhere, not only crammed into several huge wooden bookcases but also piled tall and neat in columns against every available wall. The old gentleman proudly explained that they were his lifetime collection of “hand of God” books and in response to my puzzled expression he said that he truly believed that certain books were written with God’s hand resting lightly upon the author’s so that the words inscribed on paper or parchment were being presented directly to us containing God’s principles, guidelines, and wise advice on how to lead a better life.
I am six feet tall but Simon was at least a head taller and although he was seventy-eight years old he also told me he was still a working man … self-employed as a “human ragpicker.” He said that he spent most of his days and nights searching out people who had made a failure of their lives and found themselves on humanity’s junk pile of misery and despair. Whenever he discovered such lost souls, and they were everywhere, he exclaimed, he would use his “hand of God” books to teach them how to regain their hope and self-esteem.
When Simon learned that I was not only an editor but had been fortunate enough to publish several books including a bestseller, The Greatest Salesman in the World, he told me that he had been working for years on writing a simple piece which contained short but powerful rules of life necessary for one’s success. He admitted that he had used many of his “hand of God” books as his reference source and so he had been considering calling his finished work “A Memorandum from God.” He even dropped hints, during several of my visits, that perhaps I might consider using his small piece in one of my future books so that it would be read by far greater numbers than he could ever possibly reach.
As our friendship strengthened during the summer and fall of 1974, Simon began addressing me as “Mister Og.” In long discussions, where I did far more listening than talking, we covered a wide range of subjects from the benefits of good self-help books to the sorry state of our world. It was, by far, the most memorable time of my life and yet, for reasons I still do not understand, I never mentioned my relationship with Simon to anyone at the office nor did I ever say anything to my wife, Bette, about this giant who was gradually teaching me how to live a more fulfilling life.
Then, on a Monday morning I shall never forget, my world suddenly shifted. I had been away from the magazine for several weeks, promoting The Greatest Salesman in the World on a nationwide tour, and I arrived at my office very early in order to tackle the expected backlog of challenges. On my desk was a large brown envelope, addressed to me, with its postage stamps still uncanceled. Upon reading the words “from an old ragpicker” in the upper left-hand corner, I immediately dropped the package and raced out of the office. When I reached the parking lot I dashed between cars, crossed the street, and entered Simon’s old apartment building. I hurried up the stairs, ran down the hallway to his apartment, and began pounding on his door. Finally it was opened by a plump woman in a dingy robe with a small child in her arms. When I asked for Simon Potter she began closing the door. She said she didn’t know any Simon Potter and in the four years she had lived in the apartment she had never seen the man I described to her.
I didn’t know what to say or think. Finally she slammed the door in my face and I retreated slowly down the stairs. In the lobby I turned to a downward stairway and, luckily, found the building’s janitor sitting next to the furnace reading a newspaper. He said he had worked there for eleven years and had never seen anyone answering to my description of Simon. In the next several hours of anguish I checked with the police station on Foster Avenue, Cook County Hospital, Missing Persons, and even the county morgue on West Polk. None had any record of a person fitting Simon’s description. With a heavy pain in my chest I finally returned to my office and closed the door. I slowly opened the large brown envelope and read Simon’s message to me. Enclosed, he wrote, was “The God Memorandum.” He asked that I apply its wisdom to my own life for a hundred days and if it worked for me perhaps I might consider sharing it with the world in one of my books. I was not to worry about him. He was embarking on a special mission and although we would not see each other for a long time he wanted me to know that he loved me and would pray for me. I sat staring down at my hands for the longest time after finishing his letter. Then I picked up “The God Memorandum” and read it slowly. It was everything I expected and more and, like Simon’s spoken words to me, it became a map by which I have tried to navigate my life, even to this day.
Not until several months after Simon’s mysterious disappearance did I finally tell everything to Bette one evening as we were preparing for bed. She sat close to me, on my side of the bed, and listened intently for more than an hour, without interrupting, as I related all I could remember about my experiences with the old ragpicker.
Finally she grasped my hand firmly and asked, “In your search for him, did anyone … anyone … admit to ever seeing this man? Anyone in your office? Anyone in the neighborhood?”
I shook my head. “No one. It’s as if he never existed except for me.”
Bette kissed my cheek, rose, walked around me, and removed an old dictionary from the bookcase against the wall. She turned several pages before pausing and looking toward me before she began reading, “Angel … a spiritual being superior to man in power and intelligence … an attendant and messenger of God … any representative of God, as a prophet or teacher.”
She replaced the book, walked slowly around to her side of the bed, pulled back the covers and said softly, “Good night, darling.”
In my next book, The Greatest Miracle in the World, I told the Simon Potter story completely and, of course, shared “The God Memorandum” with my readers. I am so proud that the book has been in print, now, for more than twenty years and is used by hundreds of alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs around the world as its total sales approach five million copies in fifteen languages! Simon, it seems, is still rescuing humans from lives of grief and failure through his words and I am proud to have been his messenger, in a small way.