The Gift of Words, Chapter 1

The greatest stories ever told

Today is June 21, 2017. It is the equinox. A perfect day of change to give words the opportunity to change the world.

 I can truthfully say I’m a man who has lived his life outside of the traditional box. All of the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met and the comfort zones I’ve left, have provided me with an arsenal of ideas and stories to tell. As well, I definitely have the blessing of a wild and vivid imagination that teeters on the edge of insanity. Not to mention, I know I have created angels that like to hang out with me for a good laugh and to share ideas to be part of the wild ride. What I’ve realized as I feel the gravity of age is that I don’t need to experience everything with my mind or my skin. Because there are other ways to find world changing words I can share. After experiencing the spiritual sensation of hearing other people’s stories, I realize that there are endless words that can give hope and inspiration. I believe that my words and other story tellers words will remind people that gratitude will always pull them through.

 After praying about this idea, I knew all I had to do was to have faith and trust. So I am sending this journal on a journey with only a starting point that I know. The path it takes after it leaves my hands is a mystery. But I believe it will be a beautiful documentation of, hope, gratitude, Christianity, faith and inspiration.

 I have faith that this journal will be read on the unknown journey by people who God wanted to read it. I have faith that people will be inspired to write words about their experiences that will inspire others.

 I know that the stories share in the beginning of this journal affected me in ways I can’t even explain. As well I believe my stories will be a sense of inspiration for others to write. I know that the noise and complexity of the imaginary race is a distraction from the spiritual music and poetry of Angels we should be listening to.

 I hope this journal becomes poetry in motion as it takes the journey using God and angels as the map and then finds it’s way back to me. I hope that everyone who feels compelled to write their story will find a full palette of color from reading the stories in this journal other storytellers have shared.

 When this journal is full of spiritual inspiration and gratitude please see that it gets back to the beginning point so that this gift of words can be shared with a bigger audience.

        Paul H. Keeler… Poet… Wordsmith… Observer… disciple

       Wanting To Dance With Words Again

I can remember the pain of thinking, so this is what it feels like to be at a loss for words. Frankly I never thought being wordless in a world full of lonely words would happen to me. I find it interesting as I look back on my journey of dancing with words, how one day it just magically and mysteriously happened. I remember the time and place when ten years ago, me the man that never really like to write, just started writing. It wasn’t even something I had been thinking about. It wasn’t a goal or dream of mine to become a wordsmith or use the title poet. So I find it strange why words came looking for me and not someone else. But they did come and they found me in an unexpected flood of creative juices. It was a nonstop onslaught of song lyrics, of poetry, of one-liners, of screenplays, and especially storylines for novels. Words just kept coming and coming constantly, as I was driving, or working, but especially in the night between 2 AM. And 5 AM. I found that I had become a receptacle for words looking to become a message for the world to hear. I found that sleep was overrated, that my job as a Landscape Architect no longer satisfied my God given need to create. I simply became a new man with a word cluttered goal I didn’t fully understand.

 In the beginning most of the things I wrote were not necessarily keepers so to speak, but I didn’t care, I just had the urge to write so I wrote. I filled journal after journal, sometimes the information came so fast that my pen could not keep up. Days later as I tried to read my pen’s abstraction of my thoughts it seemed I needed and interpreter. Some days the traffic jam of words literally got caught in the muscles between my mind and my fingers, creating almost unbearable pain that only a massage therapist could relieve.

 I began to believe that this once almost illiterate jock was receiving an unexplainable education from a mysterious source. I started to seek constructive criticism for the words I was writing. So I would ask for a critique from friends and family. But I soon realized that most critiques were overly patronizing out of fear of disrupting my newfound passion. I soon came to the conclusion that with or without criticism the ideas would just keep coming. I found myself believing that they were a gift from an unknown donor, that I was obligated to receive and use.

At times I realized the gift was more of a curse than a blessing. So many times, I was surprised by a beautiful sunrise after hours of un-wrapping the gift words in the middle of the night. One night as I lay in bed fighting the urge to write in my journal I asked myself what is the purpose of my obsession, what is the bigger picture that I should be seeing. I wondered if there was really a possibility that someone like me would be able to change the world with the perfect arrangement of words. But as I wondered, my alter ego I called the great accuser was always there to criticize my creativity. It always reminded me that the world is full of the chosen ones who can make words dance and that I was not one of those. My alter ego would also whisper to me that the world is full of poets with formal educations in creative writing who can make every word sing. The whisper would taunt me, telling me the world is full of those who have been writing magic since they were children and I was not one of those.

 Then almost as quickly and strangely as I became a man that could hear the whisper of words, I simply began to crave sleep in the night. I started to become consumed by the noise and negative energy of the universe. I began to think inward, only looking at me and not seeing that pain in the eyes of those distracted, desperate souls that drifted by. I was consumed by the weight of my financial problems and the impending doom of the recession. It seems I simply became deaf to the colorful poetry of life that was creating word art everywhere around me. I began to wonder if the gift was revoked and given to someone else.  I wondered if it was because I chose not to follow the urge to make my pen interpret the poetry that taunted me to play. It was if I was being told by the once generous donor to leave the pages blank, the pages that were crying desperately for the art of words. And then one day my mind went blank and I realized I was a wordless man. I knew the words had found someone new to play with, someone who wanted to listen. I knew the words needed someone who was willing to sacrifice sleep. I knew the words needed someone to help the world laugh, cry, and look at the decisions in their life from a new perspective. I knew the words needed a new poet to arrange the words into a creative form of art.

After months on a word sabbatical my eyes finally opened wide again at 2 AM. And I heard the command that it was my turn to teach not to be the student anymore. I found myself consumed in a strange gravitational pull that came from the bookstore. I was directed to the section of diaries and journals that I knew all too well. I knew I had to purchase the Journal I had always looked at but didn’t think I could afford. The beautiful hand tooled, leather bound beauty was singing to me, and the price didn’t matter. I simply had to possess the beautiful journal so I could create a home where words that had been waiting patiently to change the world could live.

I wrote this so effortlessly it scared me. I wondered what the real purpose of this Journal was. I wondered if in my ten years of writing I had not been really hearing and seeing the beautiful details in everything going on around me. I wondered if I was just being trained for a greater purpose. I wondered if I was finally ready to send a ripple of gratitude and hope into the universe and change the world with the gift of words.

      The Resurrection of Paul

     A day my life changed forever, I was on my way to meet a former landscape Architecture client of almost 30 years ago. I remembered them well; they were a handsome and humorous couple building a large beautiful home on a Creek. I remembered being so jealous of how someone my age could have so much. But as fate and Angel directed it after all the twisted and tangled time, and miles and miles down the road, I was excited to see them again. I was so intrigued as a writer that we might share stories of the past 30 years. As I drove to their new home I explored my preconceived expectations of the grandiose nature of their new world. But what I found was a story that made me realize that gratitude is the only thing that will pull us through desperate times.

At first I thought I hadn’t written the address and directions down correctly, as I pulled in front of a small modest home in a rundown neighborhood of a small farming community. But then I saw his company logo on a 1970 something dented and rusted old truck. I was no longer interested in how I might serve them with my profession. I was more interested in how they would serve me on my journey with words by the story they could tell.

I rang the doorbell and waited patiently, but no one came to greet me. I could hear a commotion inside the home but still no one came to the door. I rang the doorbell again and heard a desperate plea to come in. I opened the door to find Susie in a wheelchair trying to reach down to help her husband Bob who was having a violent convulsion. I rushed in and kneeled by his side, I asked Susie what I should do. She told me in an un-emotional voice not to let him bang his face on the floor. I tried to cradle his head in my arms, which turned out to be more difficult than I thought. Then as if it had never happened his body was finally motionless and he struggled to his knees and stood.

They both instantly switched into a Smalltalk mode, which was so surprising to me. My heart was still beating wildly. My adrenaline level was sky high and I was actually shaking. As if nothing dramatic had happened, they started to talk about their landscape needs for their modest home.

Finally after a few minutes of sketching ideas with them I just had to ask them to tell me their story. Susie smiled and obliged my request; she talked pleasantly as if she was telling me about a wonderful family vacation. She told me how she had slowly deteriorated since I saw her last with multiple sclerosis. She said she had lost total use of her legs and that it was so difficult because her husband Bob couldn’t lift her anymore. It turned out that Bob; a contractor had fallen off a roof and fractured his back, and had trouble doing even the smallest of tasks.

I hadn’t even heard the full complex nature of their story and I already had tears welling up in my eyes. I thought about the past few months, of how I had been so ungrateful for all my blessings and everything I had. I wondered how long it had been since I had prayed, I had the urge to get on my knees right then and shout an apology and say thank you to the Lord for all my blessings.

Susie went on to tell me how Bob had gotten West Nile virus. She told me the virus had affected his brain, and how strange incapacitating convulsions would happen unexpectedly several times a day. It was strange to me how she was still smiling when she told me everything. She told me, all she could do was watch, when Bob would thrash around dangerously on the ground after falling unexpectedly. Susie told me without emotion, that the medical bills had totally drained the family finances and left them with almost nothing.

I couldn’t stop my emotions and I finally let the tears rolled down my cheeks. You would’ve thought that my tears would have been an invitation for their tears to join mine. But she simply smiled and went on with their story as if she was trying to paint a picture in my mind of a beautiful journey she had been on.

In a voice without emotion she told me that their beautiful home on the Creek had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground and how the insurance company was less than generous in helping them start a new life. She then told me how the deep snow of last winter caused the roof of their contracting shop to fall in and ruin most of Bob’s supplies and tools. And once again the insurance company did not come to their rescue.

I couldn’t believe that anyone could survive the story she was telling me with a smile. I couldn’t believe how unemotional she was when she told me of such a painful journey. Again I thought about my good health and of how ungrateful I had been in recent years. The gravity of her pain pulled hard on my emotions and I had to let my tears flow.

Susie asked me if I remembered her son Danny, but I did not. She pointed to the beautiful Angel like painting on the wall, and told me that was him. She said he had spent a lifetime suffering from the darkness and the weight of being bipolar. She told me story after story of the wonderful things he could do when he was on a high cycle. Finally she told me again with a pleasant smile on her face that he had tried to commit suicide on one of his dark cycles by driving their truck off a cliff. As it turned out he survived leaving them a mountain of insurmountable medical bills they could never pay. Susie went on to tell me that when he was finally released from the hospital he found a way to be with God again.

 Just then Bob suddenly fell from his chair banging his face on the floor giving him a bloody nose. He went into a violent convulsion as I kneeled over him and cradled his head in my arms. And then as quickly as the convulsion came it was over and he sat back in his chair and apologized for my inconvenience.

We concluded our meeting and I offered my services for their modest home for free. I knew I had to compensate them for making me a better person. I believe the day I spent with them was a defining moment in my life. I felt spiritually compelled that I had to pass their story along, so that others will find a way to smile through the dark cloudy days of their life. I knew it was now my destiny to give people hope and to help them remember, that gratitude will pull them through adversity and uncertainty.

I canceled the rest of my day of meeting with clients and went home and wrote Bob and Susie’s story in this Journal. I then drove up into the Wasatch Mountains and hiked to a cliff overlooking the beauty of the Great Basin. I knew I had to apologize to God for being so ungrateful, and not trusting that his plan for me was the perfect design. I believe it was a sign as I watched the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen painting a message in the desert sky. I cried as I thank God for all the beautiful blessings he had given me. I asked God to help me find the right person to send this Journal out into the universe with, to be filled with the words of unknown authors. Somehow I just knew there was life changing stories that were begging to be heard, and all they needed was a stage. I felt a strange warmth on the pages of this Journal and I could sense they would become a tool that could help hopeless people find hope, and help faithless people find faith, and to spread the healing message of gratitude.

I have faith that this Journal when it is full will be returned to me with stories that will change people’s lives. I have no idea how long it will take or where the Journal will travel but when it is finally full of the gift of words please send it home to me and I will give the world the opportunity to hear the stories. I will be waiting patiently to read the words of strangers so I can fill my eyes with tears and my heart with gratitude, thank you for sharing with me.

      The Journey of the Journal Begins

The next day I was driving north to meet with several new clients in Cache Valley. As I was stopped at a traffic light in Brigham City I noticed a bearded longhair man with a cardboard sign that said simply, help me. As I looked closer I saw a beat up old guitar leaning against a tree. I couldn’t help but notice that his clothes worn thin and were dirty. He was sitting on a tattered, khaki green, war surplus duffel bag. My inner voice whispered to me, help him. I knew my Angel instincts had been called to duty. I knew this man needed more than me rolling down my window a few inches and stuffing a dollar bill out like someone had just done. I knew I had to talk with him and hear the details of his story. I heard the inner voice whisper again, take the opportunity to let him change your life, and you will surely change his life.

I pulled my car to the side of the road and walked back toward him as an incredibly warm sensation filled my soul. When I was 20 feet away our eyes met and he smiled. He was such a handsome man under all that dirt; his eyes were a color of green like I had never seen. I asked him if he was hungry and he said simply, always. I pointed to the restaurant in the strip mall and told him, if he would play me a song on his guitar I would buy him lunch. He smiled a beautiful smile with crows feet smile lines around his eyes and picked up his guitar. He tuned his guitar and played a beautiful melody I knew the world had never heard before. The song he sang was about trying to find his way when the world was so gray. When he was done I extended my hand and told him, my name is Paul, I was sent to save you. He gave me a strange look and told me I could call him Ruger, the nickname his dad had given him. Ruger and I walked quickly to the restaurant and as we ate and talked. I knew he was the next owner of the beautiful leather Journal. I believed he was the next author that would change the world by sending ripples of gratitude through the universe with the gift of words.

My interpretation of Ruger’s story doesn’t matter. It is his time to tell the truth of his story. But I can tell you this I cried as Ruger told me how he ended up in a situation of holding the, help me sign. I was so grateful for the chance to hear a story that made me feel once again so grateful for my perfect life. I knew I had to do something special for him so I bought him a room at the truck stop motel. The gratitude he showed me for the chance of a good night sleep and a hot shower was an unexplainable high. I promised him the next day I would drive back to the truck stop and buy him breakfast and drive him to the next stop on his journey.

The Gift of Words-
My Story About Sharing The Gift Of Attitude And Gratitude.
© Paul H. Keeler… A Cosmic Cowboy.

1 Comment

  1. Ok Paul….you got me. Up until today, I had only read your poems. I love this! I don’t have the words to describe how you make me feel! I need a word angel! This is beautiful and raw and real. You have given me a kick in the pants that I’ve needed and also brought tears to my eyes and tighness in my chest! I also read ‘Angel in Training’ and have some thoughts there, but mayne for another time 🙂 But for now, this is just plain honest and I love it.


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