A book reading that became a peak experience

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As empty seats filled, I felt the energy rise. A jacket draped across a set of chairs filled me with a sense that this event would be well attended. I walked outside to begin my pre-gig ritual. I placed the earbuds into my ears, cranked up “Right Now” by Van Halen, and thanked God for the opportunity to share my words with people who wanted to hear them. Once the song was done, I walked back into Bookworks and marveled at the full house. Every seat was not only taken, but my son scrambled to get extra chairs to accommodate the audience. The energy surged inside of me; I didn’t feel nerves, rather, I felt like a thoroughbred chomping at the bit to get started.

Although giving readings to support a book is part of a writer’s job, they’re all different, even if the book and plan is the same. Just as a reader gives life to a book, an audience is what brings a reading to life. When I saw the diversity of attendees, I knew that I was in for a lively bunch that would both challenge me and respond to the challenge I set forth in my words. I was there to discuss 49 Tips and Insights for Understanding Addiction, my latest book, and some of the thoughts I share within will make people question their own views on what it means to find recovery. I had no doubt that the audience was up to the task.

I read from and discussed three things, primarily: 1) What’s important is what people learn, not so much what I teach; 2) That “Rock Bottom” is a cruel myth; and, 3) the Stages of Recovery. I read the parts of the book that pertained to each section and the audience’s eyes were as diverse as the members: some looked at me with interest, others curiosity, while others looked at me with disdain and anger. By the time I was finished, they were the ones chomping at the bit. They bombarded me with questions and their own thoughts. There were all kinds of questions that we discussed and while some disagreed with me and with each other, all were respectful and thoughtful.

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Maslow defined the concept of a “peak experience,” which is an event that is a, “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experience that generates an advanced form of perceiving reality, and is even mystic and magical in its effect upon the experiencer.” Without any doubt, I was fortunate enough to have gone through a peak experience – especially when attendees actually had me sigh copies. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had several signings, but each one is special and humbling and this one was no different. I signed and chatted with people and I couldn’t have been more elated and elevated. It took several hours to calm down and in some ways, the energy rush that I experienced is still coursing through my soul, even after more than a week. I am grateful and appreciative to all of those who attended and to Bookworks. I am now fortified against any doubt and I now KNOW that my work can draw a crowd!

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