Time is precious, and you have much to do.
His name was Jones. No one knew where he came from or where he slept at night. All they knew about him was that he seemed to know everything about them, and knew exactly when to show up to offer well-timed words of wisdom.
The Noticer, written by Andy Andrews, is the subject of this post. I intend to walk you around the content, maybe allow you to touch one or two of its pages, then ultimately, give you a killer reason to go read it yourself!
The story follows an elderly, white-haired, blue-eyed gentleman as he wanders into and out of the lives of a young boy living under a bridge, a middle-aged couple whose marriage is crumbling, an old widow who thinks she’s lived past her purpose in life, an entrepreneur who has no qualms about cutting corners for the reward of big money, and teenagers missing their vision for the future. Mysteriously, Jones arrives at the diner at just the moment the man is rethinking everything, at the bottom of the porch stairs just after a big fight, at the handmade and treasured bench at the moment of quiet personal reflection. He meekly points them back to events in history which would have ended much differently and sadly had only one action been left undone. For example:
There was a farmer in Diamond, Missouri, named Moses,” Jones continued, “who had a wife named Susan. They lived in a slave state but didn’t believe in slavery. Well, that was a problem for those crazy people who rode through farms at night, terrorizing what they called ‘sympathizers.’ And one cold winter night, Quantrill’s Raiders attacked Moses and Susan’s farm. They burned the barn, shot several people, and dragged off a woman named Mary Washington . . . who refused to let go of her infant son, George.
Now, Mary Washington was Susan’s best friend, so Moses sent word out immediately, trying to do something to get Mary and her baby back. Within a few days, he had the meeting set; and so, on a January night, Moses took a black horse and went several hours north to a crossroads in Kansas.
There he met four of Quantrill’s men, who arrived on horseback, carrying torches, wearing flour sacks with eyeholes cut out over their heads. And Moses traded his only horse for what they threw him in a burlap bag.
As they thundered off, Moses fell to his knees. There in the freezing dark, with his breath’s vapor blowing hard and white from his mouth, Moses brought out of that burlap bag a cold, naked, almost dead baby boy. And he opened up his jacket and he opened up his shirts and placed that baby next to his skin. Moses fastened that child in under his clothes and walked that baby out! Talking to that child every step of the way — telling the baby he would take care of him and raise him as his own . . . promising to educate him to honor Mary, his mother, who they knew was already dead. Jones looked intently at Willow who stared back in wonder. “That was the night,” he said softly, “that the farmer told that baby he would give him his name. And that is how Moses and Susan Carver came to raise that little baby, George Washington.
So there. It was obviously the farmer from Diamond, Missouri, who saved those two billion people.”
Jones continually brings perspective into every life he encounters. But instead of encouraging people to ‘see the bigger picture’, he points them to the real meaning of life.
“If you are breathing, you are still alive. If you are alive, then you are still here, physically, on this planet. If you are still here, then you have not completed what you were put on earth to do . . . that means your very purpose has not yet been fulfilled. If your purpose has not yet been fulfilled, then the most important part of your life has not yet been lived. And if the most important part of your life has not yet been lived . . .” Jones paused, waiting for Willow to follow his thought to conclusion.
“That is my proof of hope,” Willow said softly.
“Yes, it is,” Jones agreed. “If the most important part of your life is ahead of you, then, even during the worst times, one can be assured that there is more laughter ahead, more success to look forward to, more children to teach and help, more friends to touch and influence. There is proof of hope . . . for more.”
Here is my favorite quote from the book:
Jones reached over and took Willow’s hand. “And how far into the future could we go, dear lady, to show how many lives you will touch? There are generations yet unborn, whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take . . . tonight. And tomorrow. And tomorrow night. And the next day. And the next.
“No matter your age, physical condition, financial situations, color, gender, emotional state, or belief . . . everything you do, every move you make, matters to all of us — and forever.”
Now, go read this book because the flow of the story sweeps you up and leaves you catching your breath and inspires you to be more excellent in all you do. At least that’s what it did for me. (killer, huh? no? k, well sorry ;))
Apologies are in medium quantity for the fact that all three quotes come from the same chapter. These were the ones I reread over and over, my eyes running back and forth like tastebuds. They were delicious to my palatte and I hope you find it the same.