Friday, April 24, 2015

I didn't do anything special. I did what anyone should do.

author with her sons
Last night I attended a Local Author Showcase at my library, where I shared the stage with ten neighbors, including my own son, (author Michael Phillip Cash) who all have written and published books.

The library did a beautiful job, setting up a semi circle in the auditorium (Something I'm embarrassed to say I never knew the library had.) to a wonderful spread of coffee and cakes from a local bakery. Sadly with my son present, I was unable to even taste any of the goodies, as he watches and worries about my weight more than I do.

Each author was invited to get up and do a five minute spiel about anything they choose. As usual, both my son and I were unprepared. We both ascribe to the school of being impromptu when public speaking, sometimes a fool hearty endeavor, but always a learning experience. 

I was amazed at the array of subjects my colleagues tackled, ranging from the holocaust, to vampires,a YA book about death of a young friend, to a children's book dealing with the death of a parent. It was an eye opening experience that filled me with both pride and respect, a doctor here, a housewife there, a teacher, grandmother. People from all walks of life, dedicated professionals  who have decided to go out on a limb and write about what they know, and in some cases even about what they don't, to follow a dream and perhaps change another person's life. It was awesome being in such august company. Regular people who stepped outside of their comfort zone to gamble and take a chance. 

I must say with a mother's pride, I enjoyed my son's presentation. He's funny, irreverent, motivating, and fearless. He has tackled multiple genres, writing a self help book under the name Michael Samuels when he was barely out of his teens, to his paranormal and horror novels, that often find themselves on best sellers lists all over the world. He writes for the joy of writing, and I am filled with wonder at his diversity.

I must add that with even more pride, my younger son does all his covers, runs the IT department, and reigns in both his brother's and my impulsiveness for our enterprise. We are a team and I cannot say enough that all of our success depends on our group. Just as Michael says in Schism The Battle for Darracia, "The Trivium is whole. One cannot exist without the other."

Mother's pride aside, I want to discuss something that happened last night. The speaker before me went up to the podium, and I think the combination of white hot lights and nerves got the better of him, and he grew flustered. Despite the staff's encouragement, I think he froze and couldn't finish his presentation. I have been there. Your heart is pumping, you look out at your friends and family, hoping and praying that you don't embarrass both them and yourself. He gave up, saying he couldn't do it. It was clear he was humiliated. My heart went out to him.

I was next and without thinking, I discussed the value of his book. I forgot about my own, explained how hard it was to stand before an audience, how it challenges even veteran speakers, and used my five minutes to complain about the glare of the lights, the challenges of publishing for anybody, and lastly, oh yeah, I've written and published about twenty children's books. I didn't think about lost opportunity, or 'paying it forward'. The man before me was in trouble, and I just wanted to help, anyway I could to ease his anxiety.

Afterwards, the librarian and her staff approached me, thanking me for what I did. Some called it a random act of kindness or a real example of 'paying it forward."  I must admit I looked at them blankly. It wasn't random, it wasn't done to inspire others to repeat a 'good deed." It's what you're supposed to do, all the time. It''s what my parents and their parents before them put in our DNA. It wasn't done on purpose, it's instinctual as running when you hear any child cry, "Ma," in a playground. It's as programmed in me as giving up my seat for a pregnant woman, (even at sixty,) or offering to help a person challenged by everyday activities. It's about not saying things that don't have to be said, including everybody in your game, and making sure everybody has enough. Enough of what, you may ask. It doesn't matter, really it doesn't. I'm not a martyr, and never feel that I've been sacrificed or eclipsed by someone else. I have absolute confidence that my turn will come.

When I replied I had done nothing special, it was what anybody would do, the librarian shook her head sadly. "No, they would only want to talk about their own book."

Well, I repeat. I didn't do anything special. I did what anyone should do. It shouldn't be paid forward or a random act of kindness. It should be back where it belongs in our society, ingrained and expected as our parents taught us to do. I'm just saying!

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