Make a Connection

by Jim Denney, adapted from
Clear, Straight Answers to 20 of Life’s Most Perplexing Questions

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” —C. S. Lewis


William Saroyan in the 1970s. Photo: public domain.

In the late 1970s, when I was in my twenties, I would occasionally notice an older man riding his bicycle around town. He made quite a visual impression, with his heavy eyebrows and distinctive walrus mustache. I noticed him several times, but it never occurred to me to stop my car, get out, and talk to the man.

It wasn’t until some months after his death that I learned who that man was: William Saroyan, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Saroyan was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and the Academy Award for Best Story in 1943 for the screen adaptation of his novel The Human Comedy.

I was just getting my start as a writer at the time, and any advice this brilliant novelist, playwright, and short story writer could have given me would have been priceless. I’ve often wondered how my life as a writer would have been impacted if I taken the time to stop and get to know this man. I can think of dozens of questions I could have asked him, and his answers might have given my  career a huge boost.

Of course, he might have said, “Get away, kid! Don’t bother me!” (as another famous writer once told me). At least that would have given me a story to tell—and it wouldn’t have cost me anything to find out.

So here’s a suggestion, one I’m still learning to put into practice in my own life: Don’t go through life focused only on getting from Point A to Point B and checking off every item on your Things to Do list.

Stop. Take some time out. Say hello to someone in the checkout line or the waiting room. Have some conversation starters handy: “Oh, I’ve never tried that product—is it good?” “What book are you reading? How do you like it?” “Would you mind giving me your opinion on this?”

You might make a friend—or you might not. But at least you’ll accomplish something I failed to do back in the 1970s.

You’ll make a connection.


Answers-SoulANSWERS TO
Clear, Straight Answers to 20 of Life’s Most Perplexing Questions
by Jim Denney 

(Kindle Edition: $2.99)

“Read this book and save yourself a lifetime of searching and wondering. The answers you seek are all right here!”
Jack Canfield, author of Dare to Win and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

“Grab an arm-load of Answers to Satisfy the Soul! Buy one for yourself, one to lend out, and a dozen to give as gifts. You’ve got a lot of friends who need this book!”
Pat Williams, author of Character Carved in Stone

“If you are on a quest for success, happiness, love, meaning, or God, this book is for you. Whatever you seek in life, Answers to Satisfy the Soul will speed you on your journey.”
John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

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