Earlier this year at a small convention in Gainesville, Florida, I held my very first public reading of “A Far Off Light”. It was late in the evening and down a hallway that featured no signage or properly functioning lighting fixtures. In fact the one flickering bulb, desperately in need of a change, was doing its best to produce an intense feeling that I would soon be murdered by some kind of murder man at any murderous moment. My wife Angie was with me and my friend Ryan was too. Three young ladies who had sworn to find us later in the day kept good to their words showing up as well. A nice Borg lady also stayed over from the previous panel. By the end of the hour there were even three additional guests. In total, three giggly girls, one Borg, two college kids and their friend the Toxic Avenger. This…this was my first buffalo centric public forum.
And it was wonderful.
Only a few had braved one terribly uninviting hallway in order to hear what Ohno had to say yet the room still felt full. It was full, with laughter and with love. Ohno’s story is deeply personal to me. I’d never attempted to read it in front of anyone save my wife up to that point and while the emotions were strong, I kept myself together better than I would have expected and delivered a rather professional reading. Everybody liked it, everyone was touched. The Toxic Avenger even shed a small tear behind that rubber mask of his. Seeing those emotions is a reminder of why I will always share mine.
I’ve gotten the chance to read my book a few more times over these last few months, and will continue to in the future as circumstances arise for me to do so, but I will never forget that first night. I had promised my wife not to keep this story to myself. Not to hold on to Ohno (and Abigail) but to let them go. In creating those two they had both already brought me inexplicable joy. By not holding on, it allowed everyone else to find a little joy too.
The worth of keeping that promise is revealed every time I see that joy in someone’s eyes or hear it in their words.
One other promise I've made, my bison bond to keep, was to donate all the monies that came in for “A Far Off Light” to organizations that work towards buffalo conservation. I’m pleased to announce then that another check has been written! The fine folks over at The Inter Tribal Buffalo Council will soon receive a gift that you all made possible. A gift that will make a brighter future for the buffalo possible.
The Council first came to my attention as my own heart for the bison was growing during my book’s original inception. This animal that I now hold so dear has been held that way by the original inhabitants of this land for generations. The Native American connection to the buffalo has always been strong and necessary. As one group flourished so did the other. When one faced destruction, so did they both. Brave and bison alike have always held their heads held high no matter the odds against them. Your donation has helped to even those odds just a bit more.
Today, at the dawn of a new millennium, it is my hope that those proud people and their beloved brother buffalo would find healing for some very old wounds and look, a new light shining in their eyes, towards a tomorrow that sees both families flourishing once again. Thank you to one and all who have purchased a copy of “A Far Off Light”, or simply donated outright, as your kind contributions have made an actual difference. In giving just a few dollars you have purchased an immeasurable amount of hope.