Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love the Ones You're With

I woke up this morning and thought, "Ah, lovely, an empty day.  No appointments.  No visits from the vet or farrier.  No tennis.  A whole day to write."

Then I remembered it was Wednesday, my day to work at Faith in Action.

Ah well, I thought.  I'll at least get in a couple of hours of writing before I go.

Then I remembered my 8:40 am appointment at the high school.

I thought for another minute or two, lying in bed, and decided that I could write a bit before the appointment and a bit after I got home from FIA, and it was all good.  I'm working on the start of a new novel.  The start's always rough, and I don't think it needs to be perfect before you move on--in fact, better that it isn't--but on the other hand, it needs to be a place from which the story can continue.  Attempt #1 was frightfully boring.  Attempt #2 was better, but a bit navel-gazily for my taste.  Attempt #3 will happen latter today.

A few weeks ago at FIA, we had a moment of down time, and one of our regular Wednesday crew, Vic, settled himself into a chair across from my desk.  Vic is a retired high school teacher and football coach who takes a touching and genuine interest in my novels.  He buys them all up for his granddaughter.  Anyway, Vic asked me how my latest book was coming.  Then he said, "Do you love it?  Do you love writing?"

Nobody ever asks me that.  They ask if I'm published, if I'm famous, if they've ever heard of me, but they never ask if I love it.

"Yes," I said, smiling. "I do."

"That's good," Vic said.  "Loving your work, that's the biggest blessing you can have."

"Did you love your work?" I asked him.

"I did," he said.  "I loved every minute."

I pretty much already knew that.  I could tell by the way Vic interacts with my son, when my son comes to work at FIA.  I could tell, too, by the reaction of a young man who came into FIA as a client, saw Vic, and said, "Coach!"  They embraced; the young man told me, "He's the only reason I managed to graduate from high school."

We have a lot of very good, caring, committed volunteers at FIA.  We're lucky that way.  But Vic is special.  Clients stop by just to say hello to Vic; just to let him know how they're getting on.  Once, when Vic was absent, a client knocked on the office door to ask me, "Doesn't Vic work on Wednesdays?  Is he sick?"  The secret, I once told my daughter, is that Vic makes every person he interviews feel as though he truly cares about them.

"You're wrong," my daughter said sharply.  "Vic doesn't make people feel as though he cares.  Vic actually cares.  People can tell the difference."

She was right, of course.  Loving what you do, that's a blessing.  Loving who you're with, that's something better.  I spend half my Wednesdays now trying to learn from Vic.