Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Sometimes it is better to receive"

Everyone is comfortable and familiar with the old adage, it is better to give than receive. I can’t say whether that conforms to the natural selfish tendencies of humanity or whether it simply glorifies the overly misused Christian context and philosophy on giving [to others]. What I can say is this: for many years that simple philosophical mindset has been the justification behind my pride, my unwillingness to take one ounce of help from anyone, believing [that] if God wanted me to make a way for myself to survive in this world, He would do so without having me humble myself with my hat in my hand and a collection plate.

In dealing with the sudden growth in curiosity and the ease with which so many doors have begun to open since formally announcing the release of “Proud Souls” I can say that I have been humbled in this experience and I have done it by letting loose of that philosophy of receiving help and I have taken on a new mindset: Sometimes it is better to receive (so long as you give something back in return as appreciation for those who have and are willing to invest something of themselves in seeing your dreams fulfilled).

There is something about my writing career that many people don’t know and that is once upon a time, when I came upon the realization that writing was indeed my gift, I had previously produced some written works and even self published an early work entitled, “Why Wear The Cross?” That story in itself is a long one, but I will summarize that story here.

For those who can recall, on March 28th, 2000 a tornado hit downtown Fort Worth. The twister came without warning and it was one of two that hit that day, the first being in the cultural/historic district and the second [actually] striking the heart of downtown. Not but a few days after the storm, I was washing clothes at a Laundromat in the North Richland Hills area. I had been battling an already brewing storm within my mind in trying to determine this sudden unction and urge to “do something” though at the time I couldn’t pin-point what this newfound desire was. All I did know is that whatever this restless feeling, it was keeping me awake at night and making life unbearable for me emotionally as I didn’t feel comfortable with telling anyone, apart from my wife at the time, about this sudden craze and whispers I felt stirring within my soul. I honestly felt I was crazy. I remember the first time I heard what I thought were voices and I panicked, woke my wife and almost started crying, fearing I was actually losing my mind. I spent days in prayer, trying to figure out exactly what I was going through. I have to say it was more frightening than enlightening (looking back now seven years later).

Anyhow, back to the Laundromat. I was working as a truck-driver at the time and I had some time off from work to help take care of things around the house. I took our laundry and a book (as I have always been an avid reader) and started washing clothes, something I truly hate doing in public places. It was there I met a woman whose name, I am terribly sorry to say, I can’t recall at this time. She was sitting on a bench inside the Laundromat, minding her own business, though I felt her staring at me intermittently. Knowing now that I hate doing laundry (and for those who know my temperament) I began to feel uncomfortable. I finally turned to her and she waved me over and told me to have a seat. For reasons beyond my comprehension, I didn’t feel upset or bothered after seeing her wave me over, instead, I agreed and I sat down and she initiated conversation. I remember telling myself at the time, oh my God, she’s one of those people who talk you to death in uncomfortable situations (like doing laundry). I was polite and I shook my head a lot and then she started saying something very significant.

This woman, whom I have never met prior to that moment, told me that she was in town on business because of the tornado. She said she was in the insurance business and had to settle lots of claims, etc. That is why she was in the Laundromat at the time and she then started talking about God and gifts and talents and following our dreams. Whatever my initial thoughts of her, they quickly subsided and I was completely attentive to what she was saying. Something inside me told me to listen, to pay attention and those feelings of uneasiness and restlessness I had been carrying for weeks were now beginning to go away. I felt as if my body had suddenly begun to relax and my mind was easy and I had no difficulty focusing on her words and the things she was trying to convey. She talked and talked until finally she said the words that struck balance within my heart and put my soul at sudden ease. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life and without thinking, without consciously preparing my response I looked to her and said, “I want to write.”

I remember how excited I felt when I said those words and how quickly my response came out and how much everything I had to say just made sense to me. I talked and talked about stories (stories I had not yet begun to write) but stories I had already begun to see within my mind, the same ones I had already begun to piece together while I fought my sleep at night. I talked so much this woman almost started to cry, as if somehow my acceptance of this gesture justified her own reasons for following one’s heart. The last thing she said to me, as she dug deep into her purse was “Bobby, you need to write!” This lady from Denton, Texas pulled out a small composition book and a pen from her purse and smiled at me and said, “Bobby, you are a writer.”

I used that small composition book to piece together my first book—“Why Wear The Cross?” and it was terrible! I mean, the content was okay and the sincerity I tried to convey within the text was pure and honest, but the formatting, the physical book itself and my ability (or lack of) to market the book was a total failure. I tried to do it all myself, believing we are supposed to use our gifts for the betterment of the world and do it entirely alone. I was so discouraged after producing that book that I trashed every copy, keeping only the original and I also discarded 6 small booklets I produced with intentions of binding into one complete manuscript.

From that moment, up until only a couple of years ago, my writing was my private passion and it wasn’t until I announced the release of “Proud Souls” earlier this year and I learned to say YES to the people who have come to my aid, believing in my talent and my gift, have so many doors opened, doors I recall pleading with the masters of the universe to open in 2000, that wouldn’t budge.

So I say, it is a wise philosophical mindset to learn to give to others before you take, but at the same time, when it comes to something pure from within your heart, it is also just as wise to learn to bend and receive as often as you wish and hope to give in return. For I (now) believe if you learn to accept help and support (by any means necessary) from others who believe in you and your dreams, you are giving just as much in return when you offer that gift wholeheartedly to the world, for anything that comes from the heart, is truly a blessing to humanity.

By the way, I haven’t stopped writing since receiving that small composition book. I still own it to this day.


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