Means and Ends

The book journey is just beginning. And I was tempted to think that finishing it was an ending.

Putting on a book launch party was a lot of fun. I gathered random food products mentioned in the book (Red Bull, Twinkies, marshmallows, animal crackers). I chose people for everyone who attended to meet, in the spirit of one of the book's themes of taking risks on strangers, and I wrote the assignments on personalized index cards. I had fun procuring and setting up the food, drinks, and books to be signed.

What sticks with me, however, from the day spent doing errands in preparation, is an elderly, disheveled lady in a chair at the back of my local pharmacy. She was there when I came breezing in, giddy with excitement over "my" book's release, two different times an hour apart. She was awake once, asleep the next time. Both times she looked weary, care-worn, and not likely to be hosting or going to a party that night. 

And I can't stop thinking about her because the book isn't about having a party to celebrate a finished product. The book is about that lady and all the other ones we are tempted to pass by because we have important business or are in a rush. The book is for the people I wrote about — Charles who asked me to eat breakfast with him and who nibbled a giraffe animal cracker as he slipped in and out of clarity, Nicole whom my friend Joey and I found drunk on all fours downtown and ferried home, people I've misjudged and critiqued, and those I've yet to meet. The book is about what God is doing with all of us who are willing to let him mess with us — changing us, transforming us, slowing us down to see each other. The book is about love.

It's not an end in itself — a published book from which I can now turn to other projects.

It's simply the means for sharing all of our lives, for hearing your stories, for gathering people together, for challenging all of us to stop for the lonely woman in the chair even when we're excited about our own successes or wrapped up in our own pain.

The book is about whatever happens next. 

Yes, I wrote this book. But only because somebody had to go first.