The Real Race
Earlier tonight I signed books at the inaugural Tour of Utah. The crowds for this first stage weren’t too big, but I’m glad I went because I had a very cool conversation. I can’t sleep until I put it on paper.
A guy approached saying he’d bought my book last Saturday when I signed at the Cycle Salt Lake Century ride. He said, "That's not a good novel you wrote."
I tried not to look too disappointed.
"It's a great self help manual.”
I wiped my brow. “I’m glad you liked it.”
It was obvious something weighed heavily on his mind. “I haven't had a very positive outlook lately. My son used to love cycling, and he showed great potential. We used to like to climb mountains together. But the other day he was arrested for possession of meth."
It felt like I'd been slammed in the gut with a hammer. "That’s terrible news." I recently saw a television show illustrating the dangers of methamphetamines. It's an incredibly addictive substance that does massive and permanent damage to the brain.
"Your book lifted my spirits," he said. "It contains good messages. I've asked my boy to read it, and he said he would. It's a story he'll be able to relate to if he's willing to pay attention. I believe it can help him."
How I hope this kid will listen to his dad. How I pray that my book can somehow be the rope that gets him out of this hole. Many, many readers have told me what "The Race" means to them, but never anything like this. From time to time I hear comments that my book contains corny messages or that the outlook is too sunny, but I don’t agree with that criticism. There are things about it I might change, but not that. I think some people get jaded. For whatever reason, they look down upon simple truths and triumphs. That’s fine. No book can be all things to all readers.
But what greater thing could my book be than the first small step in turning a young life around. I feel a huge responsibility, though there's nothing I can do but wait to hear the outcome. C’mon Ben Barnes, this is the biggest task you’ll ever be asked to perform. Help this kid! I know you can do it, and I know he can, too.