Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Moment that Changed My Life

I've had a life-changing experience, a moment of pause; an epiphany – something to make me stop and think for a minute.

I drove to the mall and had just parked in one of the many empty parking spots left vacant after the Black Friday shopping frenzy. There in the parking lot was a mall employee, a groundskeeper doing his job. He had a gas-powered leaf-blower slung over his shoulder and he was walking along the parameter of the parking lot blowing dead leaves away from the curbs and out into the street and parking lot.

I sat and watched the man for several minutes. He would blow the leaves away but when he would walk away, the wind would blow the leaves right back against the curb. His actions, although he was gainfully employed, did not seem to serve a purpose, and he didn’t seem to care one way or the other. I’m sure he would be paid the same wages regardless where the leaves ended up. Cars passed by, scattering leaves in all directions. Some of the leaves would blow down the street only to end up against another curb, which the man would dutifully clear away with this blower.

I tried to relate this man’s efforts to my own life. Do I make a difference in the lives of other people or do I just aimlessly blow leaves from one place to another? Do I live with a purpose in mind or do I just go through the motions? Am I sowing seeds for a future harvest or am I just blowing leaves?

My life must count for something. I must be better focused than the man with the leaf-blower. I cannot be content with payday, just narrowly getting through life. I need to know when all is said and done that I made a difference somewhere along the way and that I’ve not just left a lot of scattered leaves lying along the course of my life.

In the end, I watched the groundskeeper walk carelessly up the street looking for more leaves to blow, his leaf-blower running in idle. He would pause from time to time and clear away a section of curb, caring not where the leaves ended. His expression never changed, his purpose was still unclear. It was just another day on the job. He will be back out tomorrow to clear the same curbs again of the same dead leaves.

With this thought in mind, I've had to reexamine my own efforts. Although I enjoy writing science fiction, I've tried to take on writing projects the last couple of years that are more than just simple fiction. I want people to read my books and not only enjoy them, but that will make a difference in their lives. When I first took on the project of writing From Victim to Hero -- The Untold Story of Steven Stayner, I wasn't sure I could do it. It was a daunting task that forced me to trudge through years of police reports and interviews, and I was forced to envision the torture and torment young Steven suffered at the hands of his captor. But since it's publication, I've received many emails from people all over the world telling me how it has opened their eyes to the reality of child abduction and sexual predators, and how it has helped them keep their children safe.

So the question I ask myself now is, am I making a difference, or am I just blowing leaves? When people read my books, are they better for reading them or are they just another form of entertainment? Are they seed for new growth, or are they dead leaves blowing down the street? I'll leave that for you to decide.

From Victim to Hero and The Apostle Murders are available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats. Strangers in the Stable, my new children's book, is available in paperback because it is fully illustrated in 3-D graphics. Your children and grandchildren will enjoy it for years. Just click here for ordering information.