Back in the early eighties I was struggling to find myself. I had just gotten out of the Army and enrolled into college. But soon my money ran out and I found myself working a full-time job as a security guard at a hospital. That didn't last long either because I just couldn't seem to get myself together and before long I got into trouble on the job. I resigned from my job as a security officer and sat in my lonely, one room apartment and wondered what to do. My life was going nowhere, and going there fast. It wasn't long before my phone was shut off, followed by threats from the electric, water, and gas companies. Even my landlord was in act, threatening to evict me if I did not come up with the necessary money to pay rent. I was fortunate in that I had a supportive fiancé (who later became my wife) and a few supportive family members, who helped me buy food and remain sane.
I went out looking for a job but nothing was out there. I had two years of college, but no tangible skills outside of my Army and security guard work. One day I happened to go back to my home town to visit my mother. She had gotten remarried to a gentleman by the name of Bill Bonner. I had known him when I was younger. For a few years I cut his grass and did odd jobs for him and his first wife. He was a good man and I was proud to have him as a step-father.
On that trip we were sitting in the kitchen and my mother was lamenting about my failures in life - college dropout, unemployed, one step from homelessness. Believe me, she wasn't holding back. But I sat there and took it, for one, because she was my mother and I respected her, and secondly, for the most part, she was right. As she continued, I looked over at Bill Bonner and I could see that he really felt for me. I guess he felt that I had been through enough and he interrupted my mother. "You like to write, don't you? I read some of your things and you are pretty good." he commented.
He was correct. In my early years, my one true love and passion was writing. In elementary school I fell in love with books and wanted nothing more than to one day write my own. Throughout my primary and secondary schooling I wrote short stories and poems. I kept notebooks with all of my writings and dreamed one day that I would hit it big. "I sure do Bill, I do like to write."
"Then why don't you write." he suggested.
"Well it takes two things, for one," I began, "It takes money to live on. I don't have that. So I have to keep looking for a job. And secondly Bill, now-a-days, you have to submit typewritten versions of your stories, and I don't have a typewriter."
"I can help you on both counts," he said, and sprang up from the couch and disappeared in the bedroom. He came out carrying a brown case and handed it over to me. "Here's a typewriter," he said. "I don't know if it will work for you, but I bought it over 25 years ago and have only used it twice."
That is how I got the typewriter. And that is why, when the kids found the typewriter, that I went back into time to reflect. Bill Bonner died two years after he gave me the typewriter. Until I enrolled back in college and got a part-time job, he helped out with my living expenses. But more importantly, he believed in me. Immediately after he gave me the typewriter, I banged out story after story. I even wrote a book and picked up some temporary work writing a column for a national magazine (that no longer exists!). The book was never published, but a few of my stories were published in a Sunday Magazine.
Having belief in someone is a very powerful thing. First, you must have belief in yourself and in your abilities. John Maxwell, in his book, "Talent is Never Enough," writes "the first and greatest obstacle to success for most people is their belief in themselves." For me, back then, in the early eighties, my belief in self was at an all-time low. It took Bill Bonner to help me restore faith in me and to have confidence in my abilities. Once that happened, I began to operate on a different level. I enrolled back into college, continued to write, and used that very same typewriter to help me make money writing resumes and articles to help in my college finances. My grades began to soar and before long, I was graduating with a degree in Communications from the Ohio State University.
If someone around you is struggling, step in, intervene and show that person that you have faith and confidence in their abilities. Show them how they can lift themselves out of the rut they are in. Give them that helping hand and propel them forward. You never know, you may end up helping a future president, rock star, lawyer or astronaut. Or maybe, just maybe, a writer.