I am a writer, and through my stories I attempt to connect with my readers on an emotional level. Today, through this short blog post, I hope to connect with you.
In 1974, due to severe gasoline rationing, most gas stations in California closed after dark.
I was driving back to San Diego from San Francisco, after touring with a rock band (I was on the drums), and was traveling just south of Los Angeles on the I-5. It was near midnight and I hadn’t spotted an open gas station for over two hours, and to make matters worse, the fuel gauge in my van was broken.
Suddenly, smack in the middle of the dark, lonely stretch of freeway running through the vast Camp Pendleton Marine Base, my van coughed and wheezed and slowed to a stop.
Remember friends, this was before cell phones and call boxes. Talk about feeling alone …
The freeway was practically deserted that night, and I walked five miles to the nearest town carrying an empty gas can along the shoulder. When I arrived I had to wait until dawn for a gas station to open, all the time stressing over the long walk back to my van – this time carrying a heavy can of gasoline.
Finally the sun rose, and I was able to get some gas and begin the long trek back.
Then, with around three miles still to hike, the most amazing thing happened: a pair of headlights lit me from behind, but instead of blowing by, the stranger pulled over to the side of the freeway, backed up to where I stood, and offered me a lift. I wasn’t hitchhiking, mind you … this kind man stopped to help me on that dangerous stretch of road purely out of the goodness of his heart.
I’m not sure what the man thought of me that cold morning as I approached his car, my long 1970′s rocker hair and scruffy clothes, the gas can slung heavily from my shoulder with my belt, gasoline dripping down my leg, but I know what I thought of him: I thought he had descended from heaven.
I’ll never forget that quiet man and what he did for me that day, his love, his honor, his friendship. He was a perfectly wonderful stranger.
Which brings me to the point of my story …
When my daughter was in high school, one of her classmates, an only child, met with an unspeakable tragedy, losing both of her parents to a drunk driver. I haven’t heard anything about that poor girl since the day of the accident, but I often think of her and wonder how she’s doing.
I think of her, and of the countless other young people who have lost one or both of their parents. If you are one of them, I’m thinking of you.
I’m thinking of those of you who have lost children or siblings to accidents, disease, or war. I could never pretend to imagine your pain.
I’m thinking of those who’ve been divorced, or widowed, those who are sick, injured, or wounded, and those caring for a loved one who is. I’m thinking of the disabled, the addicted, the elderly, and those who are simply alone and lonely.
I’m thinking of those whose sons and daughters are currently deployed overseas, and those of you serving your country with honor in a distant, perhaps hostile land. You and those who have fallen and their families are my heroes.
What impressed me so deeply that morning back in 1974 was the innocence and benevolence of that act of kindness. It was a simple gesture, yet it had a profound impact on my life, and I believe today’s troubled world needs more of that kind of love.
I’ll admit that the characters in my novels are surrounded by violence, greed, and hate, but it is there purely for my reader’s entertainment and to provide conflict for the overriding themes that I believe in: love, honor, friendship, loyalty, and traditional family values. They may be the only truly important things in life.
I know that mere words can’t relieve loneliness and suffering, but I hope it may comfort you to know that someone cares about you and what you’re going through, and that you are not alone.
And so it is through this simple blog post that I offer you, dear reader, my love, my honor, and my friendship, just as that perfectly wonderful stranger on the I-5 freeway once did for me.