Today the School Crossing guard waved at me. It was a magic moment.
Why on earth, you might ask would a wave be magic?
Well, I would answer, it goes like this. For the last twelve years the same man has been at the school crossing that I drive by almost every day. He is there come rain, shine, sleet, snow or the occasional tornado. The man is never late and never seems to take vacations. He is good with the kids and appears conscientious in every way. He is so well regarded that he was profiled in our local newspaper. The one thing he seems not to be is friendly.
How, you may be wondering, can you say the poor man is not very friendly when he works with children?
I’ll tell you how. He never smiles. I mean never. Not when the kids have their cute Halloween costumes on and give him candy (Yes, I’ve watched), not when they walk arm in arm in their little plaid uniforms singing at the top of their lungs on the way to school. Not even when it’s “Bring your pet to school day” and the smallest girl on the block brings a basket of kittens. The man is impervious to cute.
But there’s more. He also doesn’t wave. For twelve years, I have waved at the guard every time my car passed by him. Yes, he is focused on his job, but really, when no kids are in sight would it have killed him to give his wrist a little exercise? He would look me RIGHT IN THE EYE and then look away.
Imagine my elation, then, when today he looked at me and waved. Not heartily, maybe even a little reluctantly, but nevertheless, his wrist moved back and forth. It was a glorious moment. It was confirmation that no matter how remote the possibility seems, persistence pays off. Persistence and patience.
What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? As I drove away basking in the warmth of the crossing guard’s wave, I realized, once again, the value of tenacity. Writing is a life lesson in being ignored. It might take years of hard work before you are published. Being ignored when you offer your best work will most surely be frustrating. People might turn their backs on your best effort.
If, however, you keep trying even though your efforts seem futile. If you keep submitting even though the agents/editors/publishers look away no matter how clever your work is. If you don’t lose your enthusiasm and keep plugging along, even while being ignored, your day will come. Your crossing guard will wave. And it will be a magic moment.