What Are You Looking For This Year?

It was late spring, 2008, and I was on a mission to find one thing. I got out of the van and walked through the unusually hot day, across the parking lot, and into the air conditioning. I stopped and took a deep breath. Then I looked around.

I started at the front, checked the new release table. Nothing. Then I walked back, past the beloved fiction section, beyond the self-help. I turned left off the main aisle and slowed down, my eyes sweeping the shelves. Thousands of books. Thousands of authors. Then I saw the business section. Of course. I should have gone there first.

That’s when I saw it.

Or perhaps I should say, I saw “them.” A pile of about fifteen books in the middle of a table, surrounded by similar stacks. A small sign said “New Release – Business.” I looked closer and there it was, my name on one of the books: “with Shawn Smucker.”

I was standing inside the largest Borders Books in the area, staring at my first book.

So why did I feel so underwhelmed?

* * * * *

I was thinking about this moment the other day as 2013 came to an end. I realized that if the payoff for this life I am living was simply seeing books with my name on them, it wouldn’t be enough. Not for me. It had to be about something else.

It had to be about the writing. It had to be about the audience – you folks. It had to be about a conversation, a sort of relationship. It had to be about stories.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, make sure your New Year’s resolutions are for something that will truly give you meaning. Make sure you’re targets are set on something that will give you more than what I got when I saw that book with my name on it in the middle of a sea of books.

What if you lose the weight? What if you find the right person? What if you read 1000 books? What if you stop smoking or start exercising or read your Bible everyday?

What are you really looking for?

4 Replies to “What Are You Looking For This Year?”

  1. Shawn, one of my goals is to run 20 miles on my birthday. Why? So I can live a life of being in better physical shape. So that if I go to India on a mission trip, I can face the conditions better. So that I can share the story with my friends and family. So that I can have time away from everything else to think. And a million other reasons I could think if.

  2. I am in the business of trying doors. God deals quite plainly and clearly with some, veritably ushering them through the correct doorways. With me, not so much. So, I can take decent photographs, so I’m digging out my equipment and doing that. I can herd words together into meaning, so I started a blog. I can speak Spanish and have a heart for overseas missions, so we’re taking steps to be reappointed with EMM. I am trying doors.

  3. Wow! That’s a great point. I think the reason why people so often quit working to achieve their resolutions is because they are meaningless.

    Lately, I’ve been asking myself if what I do has eternal significance. That simple query has allowed me to reposition my priorities and alter my lifestyle.

    Best wishes for the New Year!

  4. And what if having your bane on those books in Borders is enough -and Borders goes out of business?

    In July 1996, I was lying in St Joe’s hospital, my fifth day in intensive care, and I was right on the edge, between living and dying. My girlfriend, a nurse, told me that I should be dead. The doctors are convinced by my injuries, that my wreck five days eaelier, was a suicide attempt, not an accident, and they don’t want to waste a lot of effort trying to thwart my intentions, because I’ll get my way in the end. How much effort, she asked, do I want them to put into saving me? Let me think on it, I told her.

    A few minutes later, the news was on. Someone had found Margueux Hemingway’s corpse. A suicide, they figured, although the body was too far gone to be sure. I closed my eyes and silently spoke to God, Why am I still here, God? Am I such a disappointment to you that you want me to suffer far more? I slept, and in the morning, I had an answer to that prayer.

    Your life hasn’t been much fun, i was told, You’ve set your standards impossibly high, and it’s you that are disappointed, not me. And he mentioned several instances where I had really helped someone else, but I’d scored it as an L, not a W, . And times when I’d struggled, although a shortcut was apparent, with not much chance of being caught. Life isn’t meant to be uphill all the way, and I just thought you might like to have some fun before writing the final -30-,

    You can come now, he said, and you go to heaven. Or you can stop being such a drudge, and if you do that, you don’t have guaranteed admission.

    I hesitated. He laughed. Did you ever hear God laugh? Even better than the laughter of a baby. I don’t ask trick questions, he said. But there are so many sins, and what if I die after committing one, before asking forgiveness? There are only ten sins, he said, and they boil down to “don’t be evil”. I later decided that God had talked to the Google guys as well.

    Pick out something that you think needs to be done. Something that would leave the world a better place, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal, little things need doing, too. And have some fun!

    An hour later, my girlfriend came in,and two hours late, they were rigging up a central line to give me total parenteral nutrition – my first “meal” in the better part of a week, and a couple of days later, they moves me onto a surgical floor where they started gluing me together,ad teaching me to walk.

    I don’t think you need to make resolutions, Shawn. Between your writing, and your parenting, you’re providing a lantern by which many others are seeing their ways. When you don’t know what to do next, just talk to Sam for a bit.. .

Comments are closed.