Guerrilla Author Getting Better Every Day

“So, how ARE you?”

People often use this greeting without thinking, even when they don’t really want to know.

I didn’t realize exactly HOW often until recently. And lately, I simply say, “Better! Getting better every day.”

See, last Fall, while helping a neighbor with his roof, I took a nasty fall. Broke my back. Crushed my left foot. Broke my left arm so bad it required surgery. It now has enough hardware in it to set off the airport metal detectors. I spent a month in bed, a month in a power wheelchair, and another month learning how to walk.

Business flatlined. We canceled an eight-city tour for Oracle. That set us back fifty grand. Then there were the medical bills. Denise had just been laid off, so she stayed home and played nurse. I lost my hard-won chair with the Boulder Big Band. We almost lost our house. The pain and financial stress were awful, but the outpouring of concern, support and help from colleagues and friends was astonishing! There were cards and letters (and even checks) from people all over the country, all of them asking, “How ARE you?”

“Better. I have good days and bad days, but today, I’m better.”

The injuries are healing, slowly. It will take several more months to regain my strength and energy. But soon I’ll be back out on the road again, better than ever.

This experience has healed more than just the broken bones. Without realizing it, I had become jaded and bored with my work. I was tired and flabby. I was frustrated and impatient and short-tempered, until a moment of carelessness knocked me flat.

The restricted diet made me drop 20 pounds. Long days in bed gave me time to think. The time with Denise made us closer. As soon as I could type again, I started a new book. As soon as I could pick up a pair of sticks, I started practicing. I soon found ways to coach and help other speakers.

Now I laugh more and complain less. I’m more patient, less driven. Therapy and exercise made me stronger. My body and spirit are both lighter. The experience has deepened the love for my family, friends, colleagues, and even total strangers who were so generous and helpful. The coaching I’ve done has make me a better speaker. Focusing on time and grove has made me a better drummer. Bureaus are calling and bookings are up! I bounce out of bed feeling grateful and eager to greet the day.

The most important lesson in all this is that we must ALL work at getting better, all the time. Every day. Even when we’re not broken. Competition is fierce, and unless we work continuously to improve our products, our service, our marketing, our skills and our relationships, we can lose it all in an eyeblink. Being good, even really good, is not good enough. We have to get better.

So, THANK YOU for asking! I’m better. Better every day. And in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

–Orvel Ray

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