How often have we heard the saying, “be careful what you wish for, it just might come true”?
Earlier this month when I learned that John Quinones, co-anchor of ABC News “Primetime” and author of Heroes Among Us: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Choices, was scheduled to speak at the Park City Friends of the Library Luncheon, I was excited to attend for two reasons. The first was to congratulate and thank him on his focus and commitment to finding and sharing stories of selflessness, strength, bravery and inspiration. We can never be exposed to enough stories about people who make difficult choices to help their fellow man. Such reminders reaffirm our faith in humanity. The second reason was a selfish one. I wanted to ask his consideration of lending his voice to my project of sharing stories of ordinary women who made extraordinary choices. Actually, it was to follow-up on a previous request.
Ironically, three weeks prior to learning of the event, I had sent both a letter and an email to John to ask his endorsement of my work. When the luncheon, an annual tradition for this philanthropic group, was announced I purchased a ticket.
I spent a few hours that morning planning how I might introduce myself in a not so bold and brash way to possibly encourage his interest in my work yet dismiss any possible notion that I might be a stalker.
As I walked into Silver Lake Lodge and signed in at the reception table, it did cross my mind what an honor and joy it would be to one day share the stories of West Point’s Women Graduates with a group of people from my local community. Maybe in a year or two when Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line is published, I would be invited to speak. In my grandest dreams, I could not have envisioned what transpired in the next hour.
Changes in seasons, changes in expectations
I knew about a third of the attendees from various endeavors and activities in and around Park City. Two older ladies invited me to sit at their table. We shared introductions, how we came to Park City and our mutual love for our mountain community. Snow and sleet fell outside. This is the mud season in the mountains. This is the transition time between mountain biking and hiking, and skiing and snowshoeing.
Barbara Bretz, co-president of the library board welcomed everyone to the luncheon. She shared its history and traditions, and its focus on the future.
Importance of flexibility
Barbara then offered another familiar saying that sometimes the best made plans go astray. John had boarded a plane from the east coast early Monday morning and arrived in Salt Lake City that afternoon for this Tuesday presentation. Barbara began reading from a heartfelt note she had received from John to those in attendance. He shared his own disappointment and apologies for having to return immediately to the east coast at the request of ABC executives and the President. He also conveyed his excitement that it is not too often one gets invited to the White House. He hoped that he would be invited back at a later date. Barbara concluded by saying that we were glad he was returning for a celebration rather than to cover a national tragedy.
Admittedly, I was disappointed when Barbara explained the details surrounding John’s boomerang trip. But the candor and genuineness of her remarks including John’s apology quickly dispelled any immediate disappointment. She invited everyone to buffet line.
Shortly after returning to my table, Barbara approached me and asked if I would be comfortable sharing my project in place of John’s presentation. Next to her a small chorus of the women at my table, now members of my newly established PR firm, encouraged me to seize the opportunity. In unison they said, “We would love to hear about your project. You must do it.”
I spent the next 15 minutes trying to moderate my consumption of lunch and beverage while putting together some semblance of a structure about my writing experiences and publishing odyssey.
As people finished their meals, Barbara returned to the podium, introduced Heroes Among Us and read the first chapter. She than introduced me. I came to the luncheon wanting to meet John and instead I got to “be” John.
It was a grand dream come true immediately. An opportunity to share with 150 people from my own community my desire and contribution to the body of knowledge about the importance of strong women role models.
Sometimes you get much more than you ask for – immediately.