Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Pleasant Encounter

In general, I don't enjoy book-marketing events. Why? They're usually long and tiring. But, as an author, I know that, unless I hire a publicist (which is expensive), I'm ultimately responsible for marketing and selling my books. 

Don't get me wrong. After a year-and-a-half of quarantine, I was grateful for the return of in-person events; and I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised to meet exciting people who engage in meaningful conversations. They make all the entry fees, hours of standing--sometimes in the hot sun, other times in the rain--and sales-pitch repetitions worthwhile, especially when they buy a book or two. 

Last month's 2nd Sunday event in downtown Williamsburg was such an experience. Two other local authors and I shared a tent and marketed each other's works and our own. The weather was pleasant, and as we enjoyed good camaraderie, the time passed quickly.

Best of all, we met hundreds of friendly, kind, and interesting people. One couple, in particular, was memorable. Actually, they were two couples traveling together from New York City. The women approached our display while the men stood across the street talking, laughing, and obviously enjoying each other's company. One of the women suggested that her husband should be a character in a book. "He's definitely a character," she said. She said he hadn't had a bad day in his entire life; he laughed every day, and for their forty-some years of marriage, he had made her laugh every day. I told her I'd like to meet him, so she called him over.

I wish I could remember his name. I certainly won't forget his attitude. "Your wife says you've never had a bad day," I said. "What's your secret?"

"I've had plenty of bad things happen in my life," he answered, "but a long time ago, I decided to view everything as a blessing. I was injured in Vietnam. We lost a child in infancy. I lost my job once. The worst event was when my wife, here"--he wrapped his arms around her shoulders"--was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I thought my life was over because I thought her life was over. The lowest blow was when I discovered I wasn't a match to donate a kidney."

"But our son was!" she chimed in. "It was a miracle. That was twenty-five years ago, and I thank God daily for my life."

"And I thank God every day for her," he said, beaming.

"So, would you say that how we view life determines our level of contentment?" I asked.

"Absolutely! It's all about gratitude...being thankful for what and who we have, not moaning about what we don't have or what we've lost." 

As his wife turned back to her friend, he spotted my book, After Rain, and asked about it. I told him writing it had been my pandemic project. "I wrote it because I strongly sensed that we all needed comfort and peace." I mentioned that one of the devotions was about the practice of gratitude, the very thing we were discussing. "I have to remind myself every morning to be grateful," I said. "It's so easy to slip into complaining, especially during the last year-and-a-half when it seems like our world has turned upside down. That's why I wrote After Rain. I needed the reminder that, no matter what we are going through, God stands ready to walk us through it and help us triumph over the challenges." 

"Amen!" said his wife, who I didn't realize had been listening. She bought the book. Then, she bought one for a friend. I hope she and her friend are as blessed by reading it as I was in meeting her and her devoted husband.

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