“Peace begins when expectations end.”
I embrace this quote from Sri Chinmoy, especially when I consider the past year. It’s been a turbulent, unsettling time in so many ways. Plans cancelled, dreams unfulfilled, lives put on hold. Giving into despair has been a constant temptation. Yet here we are on the threshold of a new year with hope in our hearts that in the days ahead we’ll return to life as we once knew it.
As I look at the past year, I’m aware that for me it’s been a journey toward acceptance. This has often been a struggle, but also just as often an awakening to other possibilities.
The year began with the sudden cancellation of Left Coast Crime, one of my favorite mystery conferences, which was held in San Diego. On the governor’s orders, all large gatherings were banned, and overnight the conference hotel emptied. My wife and I stayed on, but it was like an inn in a ghost town. However, in my time there, I met with the producers who are at work on the script to bring my novel Ordinary Grace to film, and I came away assured that the project is the right hands.
Immediately following the conference, we had reservations for a house in Sedona, four weeks of R&R. As fear of the coronavirus grew, we cut that visit in half and hurriedly drove home to Minnesota, where we found all our loved ones sheltering safely in place, masks at the ready.
The following months would have been long and hard but for my acceptance that things were not going to be as they once were. I had to discover new ways of doing what keeps me grounded, centered, and positive. Enter my bike. I’ve had a membership to the YMCA for decades and have worked out regularly. With the Y closed, I took to my Trek bicycle for exercise and, as it turned out, restorative road trips. Ah, the joys of pedaling a trail along the Mississippi River or following an abandoned railroad bed turned bike path through fields and forests.
A long-planned trip to Italy was cancelled in the fall, but staying home in St. Paul offered me the opportunity to appreciate fully the beauty of autumn. Even snowstorms that swept in near Halloween didn’t dampen my spirits.
In-person book events were out of the question, and I discovered the joy of Zoom. Since April, I’ve made virtual visits to more than 120 book clubs across the country and internationally. You can’t hug over the internet, but you can still achieve a sense of meaningful communion. I’ve loved every visit, and I think I’ll never go back to the old way of crossing the country for weeks on end to promote my work.
Now I stand looking toward 2021. I don’t know much of what awaits me there, but I do know one thing that will occur, and it lifts my spirits enormously: the release in August of the next book in my Cork O’Connor series, a novel called Lightning Strike. It’s a prequel, a story of Cork at age twelve and of a summer of death that changed him forever.
And on a final note, I’ve signed a contract for two more books in my O’Connor series and another stand alone, a companion novel to Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land. The future looks bright, but I try not to latch onto expectations. I much prefer the peace of embracing whatever comes my way and making the best of it.
To all of you, a happy New Year.