As the detectives came into the room, each of the group members sat rigid in their chairs, awaiting the news. They had only just learned that there was news to be heard.
The lead detective shifted his weight from foot-to-foot as he stood in front of the business networking group. There were twenty-five anxious faces staring at him. He hated this part of the job.
“He’s dead. We found him in a cornfield off of Gulf Ave,” the detective started and then paused.
Gasps went around the room as the group looked to the detective for more.
“His wife found his car parked next to the field late Monday night, and immediately filed a missing person’s report. We searched the scene the following morning and found his body. He had been shot to death.” The detective stopped again, checking the faces of the group members.
As the realization that their beloved friend was gone hit the group members, tears poured, and the room fell silent, except for the sniffles and nose-blowing.
“What happened?” shouted one of the group members, desperate for answers.
The detective ran his hand through his hair before responding. “We don’t really know at this point.”
“You said you found his car?” another group member said between sobs.
“We found his car with the driver’s side doors and trunk open. The car was jacked up and the spare was on the grass next to it. But none of his tires were flat.” The detective looked at the floor as he delivered this news. The facts just weren’t adding up, and he knew these people deserved answers…
This sounds like the beginnings of a really good novel… except it’s a tragic true story.
On October 21, 2013, my friend and business mentor, Jeff Newland, was shot and killed. No one knows why.
The police called it homicide, because there’s no concrete proof of what happened, but the evidence left behind seems to point otherwise.
Impermanence in Life
Often in life we carry the false belief that everything we have now we will always have; that it will always be present in our lives.
But the truth is, everything has an expiration date.
I met Jeff back in July of this year, when I was experiencing the local business networking scene for the first time. I showed up to his BNI networking meeting as the guest of another group member.
We hit it off right away, because he was a business coach who wanted to write a book, and I am a writing coach who helps people write books. After the networking group meeting, we set up a time to meet one-on-one to talk about his book.
Jeff turned out to be a brilliant business coach. He was so dedicated to helping entrepreneur’s who have big dreams, that he started a consulting business called Best 2 Things. He also helped change people’s focus and perspective through his Best In Class business workshops.
I became a member of Best In Class, and attended the workshops each month. It was there around Jeff’s invisible campfire where I discovered new and amazing things about myself and my business.
His workshops were electric; you could feel the energy buzzing around in the room. They forced you to think about things you had never considered before.
Most importantly, everyone’s opinion mattered. The workshops were an open discussion where we could share with a group of like-minded people.
When I walked out of one of Jeff’s workshops, I felt like I was on top of the world and anything was possible. The man just brought that out in people.
Jeff lived every single day of his life with a focus on what he loved. He was always striving to be better and to bring more value to the world and to the people he served. His dreams were never on the back burner. He was living his life fully alive.
On October 30 it was on my schedule to be attending Jeff’s “Build Your Best Week” workshop. Instead, I attended his wake.
If I knew when I saw him at the last Best In Class meet up that it would be the for the final time, I would’ve hugged him and thanked him for relighting my flame of passion for my work.
Everything in life is impermanent, including you. Live accordingly.
Killing Your Dreams
Since finding out about Jeff’s death, I have’t gotten much accomplished. The initial shock was so deep that it froze me in place. My new book I was finishing up came to a halt.
Besides the obvious questions bouncing in my head—whodunit? Why? How could this happen to someone doing such amazing work in the world?—I had questions about myself, about my life, about my work.
What was I doing? Why was I doing it? What was the point?
I began questioning all the projects I was working on and all the people I was working with. Am I happy? Am I serving people in a big way? Am I helping change people’s lives? Do I have habits that are fueling my dreams or killing my dreams?
These are the big questions that dance on our brains when we lose someone of importance to us. It sends a shock through your system, and suddenly you look at everything with skepticism.
While I’m still answering these questions for myself, I invite you to answer them for yourself too.
What ideas are you squashing with your negativity? What old habits are no longer serving your writing dream?
The Book Living Inside You
There is a book that’s living deep inside you. There’s probably more than one book. I know this because you wouldn’t be reading my blog otherwise.
There is a story inside you that only you can tell. There are experiences you’ve had that no one else has. There are reflections, insights and perspectives in your heart that only you can deliver to the world.
If you are feeling called to write a book, to share your story, to inspire others, do it. Don’t let anything stop you.
Give up the excuses that hold you back. Let go of the limiting beliefs that dampen your dream. Sit down and put the words on the page.
Do it right now. Today.
Jeff never got a chance to write his book and tell his stories before he left this world.
But you’re still here. So there’s still time for you to write yours.
Share With Us
What’s holding you back from writing your book?
Image courtesy of Licorice Medusa
8 Replies to “On Impermanence, Murder and The Book That Lives Inside You”
Jennifer, thanks for using the loss of Jeff to remind us that we don’t have forever to live out our dreams. I loved your line “But the truth is, everything has an expiration date.” I actually stopped and thought about the things in my life and when they might end when I read that. Thanks for the reminder to light a fire under ourselves.
I once saw a pic on Facebook that said “You are a perishable item. Life accordingly.” And my quote about everything having an expiration date falls along these lines. It’s sad truth, but it’s empowering because it forces us to focus on what’s most important.
My condolences Jennifer. The randomness of death always amazes, angers, and frustrates me. What holds me back on a base level is the sense that there’s plenty of time left to do whatever. But as I get older, I realize my days are most certainly limited. Once I got past age 50 it hit me that my life was likely well past half over (although one of my goals is to live to a healthy, happy active age 100.)
I don’t have any magic words of wisdom or comfort, but when I’m grieving in any way, I usually turn to music. I’m not a religious person, but here’s a link to a young man who is producing some truly awe-inspiring music.
If I botched the link, just look on youtube for Sam Robson. “How Great Thou Art” was the first song of his I heard, but two others that still blow me away are “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “It is well with My Soul.”
Great music of any type helps me think about life, death, what’s important, remembering good friends or better days. Eva Cassidy is another great artist whose music touches my soul. “Over the Rainbow” is readily found on youtube and her small body of work is available on CDs. Sam Robson’s music except for a few originals he produced, seems to only be available on youtube.
Again, sorry for your loss. Jeff sounded like the kind of person the world needs more of.
And for what it’s worth, Jennifer, you helped me prepare for NaNoWriMo last year with your online course, and I succeeded. So thank you for that small victory. *cyber hug* I appreciate that your work is all about helping us struggling, always improving writers.
(Who is most certainly going to write at least 2000 words today for this year’s NNWM!)
Thank you Chris. I really appreciate your kind words. I will definitely check out the music you suggested–thanks! Yes, some people think it’s “grim” to think about life ending, but the fact is, it does. And it will. And so we have to spend every day being grateful and doing things we love.
It’s true we’re not promised forever. There are a few things holding me back from writing. It starts and ends with me. I’m afraid to take that next step in my writing: catering to an adult audience. I fear I don’t have enough life experience to rattle off stories without being cliche. I suppose the best teacher is experience. How am I to grow as a writer without failing? And I have ideas for stories. I fear they are not good enough to write. I fear I am not good a writer to tell my stories.
I can go on and on, but it is pointless, right? I have to try. I owe it to myself as a writer and a person. I can’t let fear hold me back any longer.
@George Good for you! Fear will always be there–it never goes away. But you learn to feel the fear and take action anyway. You can do it! Don’t let anything stop you!