Paulo Coelho wrote this little gem called ‘The Alchemist’. I finished it a couple of days ago and it’s one of those stories you never forget. In this tale a young boy sets out to find his treasure. The boy is aided by mysterious figures along the way and he makes sacrifices to follow what is known as ‘Personal Legend’. Bill Clinton was photographed reading ‘The Alchemist’. Julia Roberts has gone on record as saying it’s a favorite of her books. Perhaps for them it was an after the fact thing because it appears to me they have found their treasures by following the omens that lead them to treasures.
Following ‘omens’ may not be a far fetched idea. The notion that the entire Universe will align itself with the desires of one who follows their Personal Legend is well known in many varied schools of thought. I’ll give you a clue; ‘Find your enthusiasm and follow that. It will lead you to your treasure and that is how simple it is to follow your own Personal Legend.’ I’m also fond of telling the youngsters, “Pursue your dreams. Wishing is well, but pursuit is necessary.”
I am passionate about writing. My treasure is a finished novel, a pursuit that has yet to be realized. Never fear, dear readers, I am still in hot pursuit of my treasure despite the obstacles I have had to overcome and the distractions I too must fend off. Not to mention, writing is hard. Obstacles are not necessarily what they seem. Sometimes the very obstacle that tests your resolve the most is the very obstacle that leads you to your treasure, go ahead and read ‘the Alchemist’.
In my case, I was pecking away at my keyboard with the TV on and there was Valetta Bradford and her son Xzavier Davis-Bilbo on a PSA. Valetta opened with ‘His legs are gone’. I looked up at the TV. Valetta is talking about her son’s serious injuries and something inside me broke. I have to admit I jumped up from my seat and I flipped the TV completely off. I shook with the horror of what I had just heard this mother describe. I resolved to never look at this story again right then and there. I listened to music the rest of the night just to avoid ‘the Story of X’.
That next morning at 4 a.m. I woke and began to sob. For hours. Something in me had broke for real. By 7 a.m. I was on Google looking for Valetta and X but Google had very little to offer. I searched through the ‘It Can Wait’ youtube videos and found another PSA. I wanted to make a donation to this family, that’s why I was searching. Someone had posted the PSA and misspelled Xzavier’s name with a ‘J’ instead of a ‘Z’. That lead me to a blog where some horrible racist was using the PSA to promote the most offensive comments, about thirty people taking part, or was it just the one troll using different accounts? Whatever. I’ve been around the internet block a time or two and knew better than to leave my own comment in that pool. Instead I resolved right then and there to correct the mistake that the well meaning person at AT&T had made. I would flood Google with the truth about ‘the Story of X’ and I would turn the websites over to his mother, Valetta.
I became an investigative reporter. Turns out, I’m pretty good at it. First I made the website ‘Xjavier’s PSA’ and then I made ‘the Swear Jar for X-Man’ before I actually found Valetta on Facebook. It was a two week search before I found her. I retained the url with the misspelled name because others may have been mislead with an incorrect spelling. Now I want to tell you about the ‘omens’ that were guiding me. It was all those racist comments and youtube comments that were so damn stupid. It all fueled my drive to give this family an internet presence that would help people listen to their message. My ‘intuition’ told me that if their story affected me so profoundly, then ‘the Story of X’ may be our only hope. This was just a secondary thought though because really I just wanted to go to them and lend a hand with all the work they have to do now. If I was their neighbor, I would be bringing casseroles over and pitching in with the dishes and laundry. I knew that Valetta had brought her son home rather than institutionalize him because in my research I found the ‘Pantherdise’ benefit on youtube but the website for ‘Pantherdise’ had a disconnected phone number and no one ever wrote me back from their website. It would be months later when I found out that the ‘Pantherdice’ benefit did not meet it’s objective to raise money for a new wheelchair accessible van so badly needed at this time. Xzavier hits his head coming and going and the engine needs repair.
And I also wrote quite a lot of articles demonizing this Distracted Driver and proffering suitable punishments for her gross negligence. Months later I would delete these articles. Not because I had changed my opinions. No. She should be in prison and I will not falter on that stance. Keep in mind, Texas raised me. I also saw many comments during my research that bespoke of forgiveness and the power of healing. I looked at those comments and wanted to scream. In fact, I did quite a bit of screaming in my back forty over this ‘Story of X’. I deleted those punishment articles because Valetta had found middle ground and I made the websites for Valetta. It’s not like Valetta can legally seek retribution on the woman who damaged her son irrevocably. Then Valetta would be sent to prison and Xzavier would be institutionalized. Look at this position closely. That’s what Valetta did during the nine surgeries Xzavier had to have to extend his life in the restricted zone. He is paralyzed from the diaphragm down and he lost his left lung.
I continue to promote this family and I realized that I have turned myself into an advocate against Distracted Driving. You can bet I’m driving my friends and family crazy with my warnings. I make no apology. Watch the damn road. I’ve turned my Facebook page into an advocacy platform. This is where my enthusiasm drives me, promoting this kid Xzavier because he survived. Listen to him. You cannot hear a statistic. Xzavier is a spokesman right there along with his mom Spokeswoman Valetta Bradford. They accept every speaking engagement that comes their way.
This is how Valetta copes. She once told me that when she wakes up every morning she allows herself that moment to think ‘This never happened to us. Everyone is okay.’ Then reality sets in and the only reason she can get herself out of bed is her own enthusiasm for changing the world one driver at a time. Valetta understands that her message is powerful. I agree that it is a good thing that others share their stories and that beautiful celebrities get on board with the ‘It Can Wait’ campaign but it is nothing I can become enthusiastic about. As far as I can tell, the ‘It Can Wait’ campaign is a dull thing producing little results. What we need is consequences for drivers who kill and maim and tell your loved ones, ‘Don’t text for X‘. Share this article and don’t text for X and don’t call them when you know they are on the road.
I got involved because I felt a drive to do so. I followed my enthusiasm and in return I have become a much better writer. My advocacy work is not an obstacle to my objective. It is part of my journey on my way to my treasure. I will be a writer. I am a writer. I am on course. And perhaps this work will save a life and if you can’t get enthusiastic about that, well then, you probably use your cell phone while you drive.
Paulo Coelho states in this book that if one alters another’s Personal Legend, then that one is forever set off course in his or her own life and will never realize their own Personal Legend. This is also called ‘Karma’. The distracted driver who is guilty of injuring Xzavier is also guilty of altering Xzavier’s Personal Legend. Xzavier is passionate about ‘the Green Bay Packers’ from the early age of three. Valetta says he was calling plays then. While Xzavier was grieving the loss of his legs and lung, he was also grieving the loss of his Personal Legend.
Xzavier was supposed to grow up and become a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.