It was my first television appearance and I was as excited a kid in a candy store. I had covered several thousand miles in less than two days. I took off from Riyadh in a heat wave of about 42 degrees Celsius just after midnight, landed in London the following day and by midnight I was flying over the Atlantic en route to New York. I wasn’t complaining for having done this many times over I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that all blood in my veins had been replaced by vanadium. Amidst all the bad press I had ignored all sound advice and taken up a job in Riyadh. I had flown into the region when Iraq was in turmoil and having lived there for over 15 months there was very little that could surprise me.
I stood on 135th Street watching the hordes of people walk from one book stall to the next. I had been standing in the same spot for over four hours and could feel my poor legs screaming out for reprieve. These were the times when I could use a nice warm rissole and an ice cold cocktail just outside a boutique in Marseille. Hands off! I would shout if anyone came close, offloading my carbine if they dared persist! I had to keep it together and prevent the tirade from within. We were gone past midday and there was no need to panic, after all I had been told that the truck logging the chairs was crawling its way from the top of the street were most of the action was, down to us minions at the foot of the chain. However unlike most of the people that surrounded me I wasn’t anyone. I was the urchin scheduled to appear on television. So I waited patiently telling myself that what mattered was my TV debut. I told myself that a change of clothes awaited my return patiently at home. I just had to keep it together until then and all would be okay. I had been chosen as an international speaker selected from many to appear on CSPAN TV. This was my day and no mishaps were going to stop me from succeeding.
The hour was drawing closer and before long I realized that my ride hadn’t shown up. Time was thinning out and still no show. There was no more time to get a change of clothes. I looked up to the skies and asked the Lord, what now? Hadn’t I survived the flight without complaint? Hadn’t I held it together in the dreary summer heat standing for more than four hours with no book sales? The least I could ask for was a chance to cool off before I went on TV. My ride eventually showed up 15 minutes before the show. I jumped into the car and we nudged our way through the hectic traffic. Before long fifteen minutes had been reduced to five! I dashed out of the vehicle and ran across the street and into the Langston Hughes Auditorium just in time to see one of the speakers receive a hug of encouragement before they stepped unto the stage. I had done it I thought as I quickly browsed through the program that I'd grabbed in reception. Just in time too, I thought, as I discovered in the booklet that I was the first speaker. And then it dawned on me that in the mayhem to get to the hall I had forgotten to bring any of MY BOOKS!!! This was truly madness to the nth degree! What was I going to talk about without my books? I ran out of the hall with my already tired feet now in flames, dashed across the street and sprinted back to my stand. I needed those books else that was my last chance of publicity thrown out of the window.
I had waited for two years for this moment. I had declared a sabbatical from the day my book was published. It was a sacrifice and a small price to pay considering what I had received. Against all odds I had written and completed a book out of nothing. After which it was my turn to hold up my side of the bargain. I would hold my tongue for two years from the day the book was published. I won’t promote it or market it or even speak about it. I had asked for guidance to write the book and had been rewarded in kind. Then it was my turn to keep the promise and I had pulled through by the Lord’s grace. At the end of the two years the moment I had been waiting for had come out of nothing. My first real appearance even without a single book signing was television and it now seemed as though the forces of nature were working against me!
I reached my stand in seven minutes after losing my way in the crowd, completely out of breath and panting as if I'd been in a brawl. I picked up what I could carry and began the sprint back. Six minutes later I was back in the auditorium only to discover that the show had started and I had missed my cue. Without a moment’s thought and no hesitation in my stride I walked straight to the producer and told her who I was. It was my day and nothing on this earth was going to stop me. Even if it killed me I was going to make my debut. The producer looked at me, smiled and then said I should follow her. Before long I was crawling then walking head bowed and I was in place, seated amongst others and awaiting my turn. At last my horrid day had come to its climax.
That evening as I watched the recording of myself on TV, I realized how little we knew of what went on behind the scenes. I must have drank four liters of water to regain my composure while the other speakers talked, as I practiced all kinds of breathing techniques. I tried not to think of the steam that must have been oozing out of every pore in my body and causing a cloud in the hall. I watched myself walk to the stand to talk and remembered something the Lord had taught me many years before then. ‘Take nothing with you, not raiment or money or scrip. For what you need I would provide.’ He had given me one thing that the forces of nature could not take and that was the will to succeed. He had given me faith.