“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer
So, if you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that I start each blog out with a quote. And I’m willing to bet that a lot of you just skim right over it and get right to the meat of the blog post. Am I right? Do you do that? Ha! Busted! (You didn’t know I knew that, did you? Surprise! I know ALL…muhahaha).
Well, that’s all well and good…you just skip all the quotes you want to there, buddy. But this time – well, this time, you’re not allowed to do that. I’m putting my foot down, by golly. This time I’m going to make you read the quote. Go on now. Go back up there and read it and then come back. I’ll wait.
Are you back?
Did you read it?
Okay, good. Now, I wanted you to read that because this whole blog post is going to center around the concept that it presents. I’ve seen the quote many times before and it never occurred to me (until today, that is) that those encounters with human beings didn’t have to necessarily be “deep” or earth-shattering, per se. They didn’t even have to be personal. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to have known the person at all.
Case in point.
I had to go to court this morning. Now, hold your horses. Don’t go spreading rumors that I’m a criminal or anything. It was just an old humdrum run-of-the-mill court appearance for a traffic offense. Ya know, my usual. (If you don’t know me personally, or you missed this blog, let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not the luckiest gal in the world when it comes to vehicles.) So there I sat, reading a novel that I brought along and waiting for my name to be called, when the person beside me struck up a conversation.
Her – “Is that a good book?”
Me – “Yeah, actually, it’s great.”
Her – “I’ve heard a lot about it, but I haven’t read it yet.”
This polite conversation eventually lead to my asking her about the book she was reading. (We were the only two people in the building holding actual books, by the way, instead of playing on our phones.) She told me she was reading a book about writing.
Me – “Oh, are you a writer?”
Her – “Well, yes, I guess you could say that.”
Me – “That’s great. Me too. Sort of.”
(You’ll always find that in writers…that hesitation to call ourselves a “writer.” What is it about that title that seems so distant? So unattainable? Why do we feel so undeserving? Sheesh.)
So, this polite chitchat ended up launching us into what was to become what I am now calling an hour-long best-friendship. Together, we discussed all things writing…from the way writers see the world differently (we made up so many stories about people in that courtroom that it would make your head spin) to the pros and cons of certain kinds of publishing. As it turns out, my new random friend who was afraid to call herself a writer actually makes her living being a writer. She quit her job and started publishing romance novels on Amazon six months ago. The income she has generated from doing so has actually been enough for her to live on. Wow! (And incidentally…she hates romance novels. That’s just where the market is heaviest right now and she wanted to get a good, firm foundation before diving into the stuff she really likes – young adult and fantasy novels).
By the time my name was called, I felt so “recharged,” it was crazy. I wanted to run out of that courtroom and plop down in front of my computer and write and write and write. (Of course, I didn’t. I had to go to work. Sigh. But you get the idea…) My inner spark had just been “burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.” How about that!?
All of this lead me to remember something. I had a favorite uncle – Uncle Jeff – who passed away from heart complications when he was only 33 years old. Just prior to his death, he underwent a fairly new surgery that placed a machine inside of him that would pump his heart for him. Had he survived the operation, he would have lived a “normal” life except for one small detail…he’d have to actually “plug himself in” periodically. Yep, you read that right. Thanks to the marvels of medical technology, people are able to live normal, healthy lives all while being kept alive by a man-made machine pumping their hearts for them – and my sweet uncle was almost one of them. I remember having a conversation with him just prior to the surgery. He said something along the lines of, “All I have to do is make sure I’m near an outlet and I’ll be fine.”
Maybe my random hour-long best-friend was just that. An outlet. A power source. Something to re-charge me just when I needed it most.
So, as we bid goodbye to 2014 and say “howdy do” to 2015, I challenge you all to do just this…keep an eye out for those power sources. Got it? Recharge as often as you can…don’t miss a single opportunity. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t let a spark just pass you by without allowing it to do its job. Recognize it! Engage it. Talk to that stranger…spend time with that aging wisdom-filled grandmother…surround yourself with artistic friends…dive into those novels. Let’s spend 2015 reigniting those flames, shall we?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel to work on…
Happy New Year!
“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke