Knowing Everything

I watched a recent episode of Hollywood Game Night (where six celebrities and two non-celebrities team up to play a series of pop-culture themed parlor games) that included Henry Winkler among its panel of famous people. I had the opportunity to interview Winkler in 2009 after he had published book seventeen in his Hank Zipster series, an easy reader collection about a boy with dyslexia, and seeing him perched on the set-couch I thought, “This may not go so well.” Most of the games involve remembering the names of movies, songs, television shows, or actors, and, due to his dyslexia, remembering stuff is not Winkler’s strongest mental muscle. The longer the show went on, the more I started worrying for him. He’s such a sweet man, and when it was his turn to guess who sang that or who played this and he once again got that innocent, vaguely lost look in his eye, I wanted to bust through the television and cry, “He’s dyslexic! Why don’t you all leave him alone?”

I don’t think he got one answer correct, and yet, if his performance bothered him at all, he never betrayed it. I admired his steady demeanor in the face of constant failure. I am a little bit rabid when it comes to winning. I kept picturing myself in his place and thinking how I’d want to crawl under that couch until the show was over. But he didn’t crawl under the couch. He smiled and joked and seemed interested to learn who did sing “That’s the Night When Lights Went Out in Georgia.” (It was Vicky Lawrence, by the way).

Then yesterday I decided to include his interview on my new website, and watched it again for the first time in several years. In the middle of the conversation Winkler talked about his intuition. “Your mind knows a few things,” he said. “Your instinct knows everything.” Perhaps that was why his demeanor was so steady. The student’s job is to answer the teacher’s questions. The artist’s job is to ask a question and let his instinct, intuition, and imagination bring him the answer. With this arrangement, you can only fail if you are unwilling to wait for the answer to come.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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