The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self

The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self

by Victoria Price


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486816050
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 02/15/2018
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 583,441
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Victoria Price is the author of the critically acclaimed Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography. A popular inspirational speaker on topics ranging from art collecting and design to creativity and spirituality, as well as the life of her famous father, Price has appeared on Good Morning America, A&E's Biography, and NPR's Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Her work has been featured in USA Today, People, Travel & Leisure, Art & Auction, and The New York Times.

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Writing Myself Whole

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to write the kind of books that could sing to other people's hearts in the ways that books have sung to mine. Growing up, I read books voraciously. I loved to get lost in the people, the places, and the stories I discovered on every printed page.

My favorite Christmas or birthday present was always the same: a $10 gift certificate from my dad to Hunter's Books — my childhood Mecca on the corner of Little Santa Monica and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, in what is now some of the highest-priced commercial real estate in the world. Twice a year, my dad took me to this treasure trove filled with printed little worlds, inviting me to come away with whatever precious written jewels called to me. He let me take as long as I wanted — understanding that each choice was an investment in my soul. When I emerged with ten whole books that were all mine, I was gleaming with joy. I couldn't wait to get home and disappear into all of the worlds that I was carrying — whole worlds that fit into the arms of a mere child.

In the days following our excursion, I barely left my room. I dove in and didn't surface until I was completely sated. Then I couldn't wait to tell my dad about everything I had discovered. But first, each and every time, we had the same sweet exchange.

"Dad!" I would exclaim, having run down to find him in his sunny study. "I've finished them all!"

"What?" he would reply in pretend shock. "All of them? All ten of them?"

"Yes! All ten of them!"

"I spent ten whole dollars, and you've used that all up in three days?" he would playfully continue. "I sure don't feel like I got a lot of bang for my buck if you finished all those books in three days! That gift was supposed to last you for months."

His smile always belied his words. I knew he was proud that I loved books and words and ideas and stories as much as he did. That I consumed them with an appetite for life that matched his own omnivorous curiosity for everything. I would smile in sheepish glee at being his bookish spendthrift, and then we would settle in to one of our wonderful conversations about my literary adventures.

With every childhood book I read, I fell more and more in love with the power of words. To be a writer seemed to me the most amazing profession in the world. Writers could be everyone kids want to be all rolled up in one — a medieval knight in armor, a Native American girl stranded on a rocky island, a talking spider who befriends a pig. I dreamed of one day writing my own books that would allow other people to feel the pure wonder, immense awe, and hopeful anticipation I always experienced when I got lost in a story.

As I grew older, I began to write my own poems and plays, short stories and essays. I wrote to make sense of the world, to bring to consciousness all that I hoped and feared, dreaded and desired. I wrote to understand what I wanted to know, what I believed to be true, what I dared to imagine. When I thought about what I hoped to do with my life, I could think of nothing truer, more loving, and more hopeful than to put words on a page that might inspire someone to live more fully and love more deeply, that could cradle a person through their fears and hold their hand in hope and healing.

In my late twenties, I found a job that gave me both the financial resources and the free time to write — a ridiculous job cold-calling people on the phone and selling them things they didn't need. A job in which I earned more money than I have ever earned in my whole life — even now. A job that ended at 1 PM, allowing me to rent a writing studio where I spent every afternoon doing what I had always wanted to do. But every time I sat down to write, all I felt was pressure. The easy joy I had always found in words vanished every time I faced a blank page. My friends were writing award-winning books, movies, and television shows. I, however, suddenly had no earthly idea what I even wanted to write. I felt completely stuck.

When you love something as much as I loved books, what you love and the people who do what you love can assume an almost magical power. If writers were wizards who could conjure up worlds from words, instead of letting their magic inspire my own, I convinced myself that I would never be able to live up to the exaltation in which I held their high art.

Then, in my mid-30s, I finally wrote a book.

On and off during my twenties, my dad and I had worked together on a collection of essays about the visual arts — a topic that had become our shared passion. After his death in 1993, however, the publishers asked me to write his biography instead. I don't think children can ever be truly objective enough to be their parents' biographers. I certainly wasn't. But because I couldn't bear the thought of not sharing his wonderful stories and cultural contributions with the world, I agreed.

When the book turned out to be a success, I started writing celebrity biographies for television and signed two contracts to write books about other famous Hollywood actors. Having dreamed of becoming a working writer, I should have felt ecstatic. Instead, just a couple of years later I called my agent to report that I was despondent. "I hate what I am writing," I told her. "I don't ever go in the biography section of the bookstore. I don't even watch television. I have no idea why I'm doing this."

To her immense credit, she heard me. "Good. I'm glad you know that," she told me. "Now go off and figure out what you do want to write. I can't wait to read it." Neither she nor I thought it would take me another fifteen years. Paradoxically, her permission paralyzed me from the wrist down. Instead of feeling free to be me, I stumbled headlong into a two-decade case of chronic writer's block.

When I was a little girl who felt lonely because her parents were always away, who felt peculiar because she wasn't like the other kids, who felt nerdy because she loved learning more than being cool, who felt isolated because she lived behind big walls with no next-door neighbors to play with, who felt overprotected because her parents feared the perils of their own fame, books were my closest friends.

No matter how I came to a book — in loneliness or confusion, in isolation or fear — I left in love. Books healed whatever ailed me and inspired me to live the life of my dreams.

They still do.

This is not a book about my spiritual journey. This book is my spiritual journey. This book is the literal literary manifestation of the lifelong pilgrimage on which I have lost my religion but found my spirit; lost my mind but found my heart; lost my words but found my way; lost my grip but found my freedom; lost my shit but found my shine.

Healing happens when we understand that what we are seeking has been inside us all along — waiting for us to live and love it back whole. In order to write a book that heals, I had to heal my own life by writing this book.

When I embarked upon a road trip to rediscover the voice of my truest self, I had to learn to hear her stories and then find the courage to speak them out into the world. Only by speaking true could I begin to lose the life-limiting narratives that had hogtied me to my false self and paralyzed my creativity. Only by writing myself whole have I begun to live myself whole.

"Nothing in the world has as much power as a word," Emily Dickinson once said. "Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine." By finally writing this book in my truest words of my truest self, my life has begun to shine.

That's not to say that writing this book hasn't felt scary. To speak truth is always scary. To speak truth when a lot of voices in your head are telling you to shut up feels flat-out terrifying. But way, way more frightening would be not to have written this book at all.

I have spent a lifetime finding inspiration in words whose magic has shone off the page and into my soul. At the end of the day, however, the healing I had always been seeking all came down to one word.

One magic word.

A word whose power and presence and possibility I had all but forgotten — until the summer of 2011.

To keep the promise I made to myself in the mirror and finally show up to my own life, I had to rediscover my magic word.


Magic Words

My introduction to the idea of magic words came early.

We were sitting in my mom's car, parked under a tall thin palm tree outside a pale-cream stucco house on Foothill Road in Beverly Hills. Five-year-old me was squirming with excitement in my favorite smocked yellow party dress and white patent leather shoes, my long blonde hair pulled back tightly with a matching yellow bow. I couldn't wait to go inside!

I loved birthday parties because they provided one of the few occasions where I could be with my school friends outside of the classroom — to play games, giggle about silly things, and eat the big globs of brightly colored frosting no one else wanted off of everyone's pieces of cake.

My parents and I lived in a 9,000-square-foot Spanish mansion inside a gated compound on a quarter acre in nearby Beverly Glen canyon. There were no sidewalks. We didn't know our next-door neighbors. I couldn't ride my bike around the block to meet my friends or down to the store to buy candy. I only got to be with kids my age at school or other extracurricular activities like ballet or cotillion or horseback riding. That's why birthday parties were so special. With no lessons to be learned, we were just there to have fun — together.

Other cars were pulling up all around us. I watched my classmates run up the path, clutching their presents, and ring the front bell. I saw the door open and Mrs. Moss usher each one in. But my mother had something to ask before she would let me out of the car: "What are you going to remember to say while you are there?"

That was easy.

"'Please' and 'thank you.'" I knew those magic words. I reached for the door handle.

My mother wasn't finished.

"And what are you going to do when the party is over?" she queried.

In 1960s Southern California, my salt-and-pepper-haired British mother — born in 1917 in the Edwardian Age to Victorian parents — was a throwback to another era. She sent me to a school where we curtseyed to the principal every morning underneath the American flag. She painstakingly taught me which fork and knife went with what course at fancy dinner parties, and then she watched in despair as I hunched over dinner in front of the TV and shoveled food in my mouth while trading bites with my dad. She was determined that my manners be impeccable with every adult I met. So I knew the answer. But I was way more focused on the party than on my mother's life lessons.

"I am going to find Mrs. Moss and thank her," I replied distractedly.

My mother didn't say anything. She just looked at me, unflinching, waiting for the right answer this time.

I just wanted to go inside and be with my friends. But I turned around and faced her, trying to tame my impatience. I knew I had to reassure her that I knew the lines of my script — the other magic words of childhood politesse that would allow my mom to let me go to the party.

"I will go find Mrs. Moss and say, 'Thank you for letting me come,'" I said, in what I hoped seemed a genuinely contrite tone of voice.

My mother smiled. "That's right," she responded, reassured at last. "Never forget to say those words to the hostess of any party you attend."

I was already halfway out of the car.

I don't remember anything else about that birthday party other than the ending. As the other kids were getting ready to leave, I began searching for Mrs. Moss. I walked over and earnestly looked up at her.

"Mrs. Moss," I politely began.

Mrs. Moss looked down at me expectantly, as though waiting for a request — perhaps another glass of bright red punch or maybe the location of the restroom. She was, like most of the other mothers in our class, at least twenty years younger than my mom. She had big frosted hair and wore a short, brightly colored dress like the ones I saw on television. She was beautiful.

"Thank you for letting me come."

Her whole face broke into a big smile.

"Why thank you, Victoria. Aren't you sweet?" she responded, as though truly touched by my remark. "Please come back any time. We would love to have you."

I beamed back at her, genuinely surprised and pleased by her enthusiastic reaction. The only reason I had gone over to her was that I knew the first thing my mother would ask me was whether I had followed her script. Seeing Mrs. Moss smile, I suddenly wondered if there wasn't something to what my mother had been going on about all along. Those six words strung together had made this beautiful woman stop and see me in ways that made me stand out from the other kids. They had a magical effect. It was the first time that I understood that certain words could elicit special responses.

From then on, at every party, I always went over and ingratiated myself with every mother by uttering that same polite sentence: Thank you for letting me come. Without fail, their response always seemed to elicit the same genuine delight.

Fifty years later, as I careen through life trying to tick things off my daily to-do list, I still always say "please" and express my gratitude in whatever version of "Thank you for letting me come" seems appropriate. "Please" still always stops people in their tracks. "Thank you" still always elicits genuine delight because gratitude breaks down all walls and connects me with whomever I am speaking. Turns out, as she was in so many ways that irritated the rebellious younger me, my mother was right. There really are magic words.

It's just that now I understand how the magic works. These are heart-based words. They acknowledge something our heart desires or that our heart has received; they show appreciation for the actions of others. They reflect our hearts out to other hearts. As such, they act as a pause button on the inner monologues usually going through our busy, worried, frantic, anxious, doubtful heads — and return us, however briefly, to the one place every single one of us secretly longs to live: in Love.

When we were little, it sure seemed easier to live heart-based lives. But as we grow up, so much of what we learn in school, in books, and on television begins to lure us into our heads. One particular word seems to be the biggest culprit — the word should.

The older we get, the more we start thinking about how we should act, what we should be feeling, what we should wear, how we should look, what classes we should take, what college we should attend, what job we should want, what kind of relationship we should have. By taking us out of our hearts, and into our worried and anxious heads, shoulding does its level best to erode Love.

Here's the good news. It can't. No matter how dedicated we are to our should lists, Love always wins. If (and this is the kicker) we do whatever it takes to keep our hearts open, whether it's by doing something as simple as saying "please" and "thank you" or by discovering our own special magic word.


My Magic Word

Half a lifetime later, however, standing in front of that mirror in my slate-grey bathroom, my heart felt so closed that I had no idea how or if it would ever reopen. But my promise to show up to my own life was more than just a promise. It was also a prayer. I knew I needed help.

I got it.

I got it big time.

It came in the unlikeliest of ways — in the form of my magic word.

After my wake-up call in the mirror, I had no idea what to do next. Fortunately, my true self did. If we get quiet and listen, we can hear our truest selves saying, "Turn left," "This doesn't feel right," "That's not you at all. This is," or "Go for it!" Truth is broadcasting 24/7, but most of the time we're too busy listening to the static of our busy lives to tune in.

When we do ... well, all I can say is wow!

Two months after my conversation with myself in the mirror, I stood up in front of a wildly enthusiastic standing-room-only audience at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis on what would have been Vincent Price's 100th birthday. There in his beloved hometown, I spoke for two hours about the loving, generous, joyful, fun, clever, interested, interesting, funny, curious, wonderful person I knew as Dad. I then spent the rest of 2011 traveling the world to continue this celebration at a series of events dubbed the Vincentennial (the name still brings a smile to my face).

Twelve years earlier, I had gone out on two long U.S. and U.K. book tours in support of my biography about my dad, sharing stories of my father's life and career with his fans. This time the thought came, Do something different — something that makes your heart sing. Instead of talking about what my father had done in his career, I decided to talk about how he had lived his life.

Although there certainly were movie stars more famous, more talented, and more successful than Vincent Price had been during his 65-year career, what had made him so special then — and still so beloved now — was the way he moved through the world. That's what I wanted to share.


Excerpted from "The Way Of Being Lost"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Victoria Price.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Me in the Mirror ix

Part 1 Remembering Joy 1

Chapter 1 Writing Myself Whole 3

Chapter 2 Magic Words 9

Chapter 3 My Magic Word 15

Chapter 4 Choosing Joy 19

Chapter 5 The Pure and Simple Delight in Being Alive 23

Chapter 6 The Winged Warrior of Delight 29

Chapter 7 March Madness 37

Chapter 8 Twisted Monsters 45

Chapter 9 A Rapture of Roses 49

Part 2 Storytelling in Service of Spirit 53

Chapter 10 Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! 55

Chapter 11 Hitting the Trifecta 59

Chapter 12 The Galaxy of Love 69

Chapter 13 The Stories of Our Lives 75

Part 3 Exhuming the Unholy Trinity of My Self-Loathing 85

Chapter 14 Removing the Asterisk 87

Chapter 15 Beverly Hills Brat 99

Chapter 16 My Blue Period 111

Chapter 17 My True Inheritance 119

Part 4 Missing the Mark 127

Chapter 18 Heart of Stone 129

Chapter 19 False Evidence Appearing Real 135

Chapter 20 The Truth That Dares to Speak Its Name Is Love 139

Part 5 Causing My Angels to Sing 147

Chapter 21 Tell Me, What Do You Have in the House? 149

Chapter 22 Taking My Mother to China 163

Chapter 23 My Mother Tongue 171

Chapter 24 Whistling My Mother's Costumes 181

Chapter 25 I See and I Remember 191

Chapter 26 Authored by Mary and Vincent Price 197

Chapter 27 Following the Wrong God Home 205

Chapter 28 My Campho-Phenique 211

Part 6 Seeing the Treasures That Prevail 219

Chapter 29 Mapping My Life 221

Chapter 30 Cartographies of Silence 225

Chapter 31 Wildflowering 231

Part 7 The Way of Being Lost 237

Chapter 32 Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! 239

Chapter 33 Somewhere Over the Rainbow 245

Chapter 34 Why, Oh Why, Can't I? 259

Chapter 35 Surrender, Dorothy 269

Chapter 36 My Red Shoes 279

Chapter 37 We're Not in Kansas Anymore 287

Chapter 38 My Yellow Brick Road 295

Chapter 39 A Horse of a Different Color 303

Chapter 40 There's No Place Like Home 305

Acknowledgments 309

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