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Caleb Medley: Aurora shooting victim needs our help

Caleb Medley

You are just 23 years old, about to become a dad. Your wife, lovely and only 21, is about to give birth to your son any day now. You plan to call your son Hugo. You have dreams that you will be a stand up comic one day. You’ve done some open mics. You’re working toward your dreams. You can hardly wait for your baby to arrive. Life is good. Tonight, for one last night, you’ll go to a midnight movie première without a care, without having to think about arranging for a babysitter or calling home to check on the baby. It’s going to be like any other night, but it’s your last outing with your pregnant wife, so it’s a milestone in the arc of your life.

It’s not going to be the milestone anyone could have predicted.

You’re in the theatre, having some popcorn. The movie’s fun. Then, twenty minutes into The Dark Knight Rises, a man with a gun bursts through an exit door and throws a canister of some kind of gas. The shooting starts and for about 15 seconds that feels like forever, by the light of the movie screen, the silhouette of the man with the gun fires and fires and fires ninety shots into the scrambling, panicked, screaming crowd. Everything you took for granted — what everyone took for granted — is turning upside down and disappearing. The nightmare gets worse. The light from the screen is gone and you’re lost in darkness. There is a dim light by the exit at the rear of the theatre. Do you cover your wife and baby and, in urgent whispers, beg her to play dead? Do you grab her hand and make a desperate run for the exit? No one knows what to do. There is only screaming, agony and gunfire. Help is coming. You don’t know it, but brave police officers are rushing to stop the chaos and help you. They will be on the crime scene, your battleground, within an amazing 90 seconds. Meanwhile, your mind is on a loop: This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. Wake up!

Blind and shaking, you whisper to your wife everything will be okay.

You hear a roar in the darkness and a giant fist has crushed your face, your head, smacking you to the sticky floor. For all it describes, pain is such a tiny, inadequate word. Your last thought is of your wife and child and all the years you won’t have together. Your hopes and dreams are ashes at the whim of a crazy person with an assault rifle and a shotgun. The world fades to black.  The man will be arrested. Ambulances will be called and paramedics, urgent and sure, will be here soon. But it’s too late for you.

Almost. You’re still here, but lost to darkness.

You are Caleb Medley. You’re lying on a ICU bed in a medically induced coma and you’ll be in the netherworld between waking and dying for at least a week. Maybe two. You hear sounds through a fog. The disembodied voices of loved ones reach down to you from a far, high place. They whisper everything will be okay, but you’ve got to get better. You’ve been shot in the eye, but the doctors are hopeful you will live. Live, please live, because your newborn son is waiting in his mother’s arms. What you don’t know yet is that your medical bills will rocket up to between one and two million dollars. There are operations ahead. Rehab therapy will be hard. There will be bills for expensive drugs. You will lose  work and time. You’ve missed the birth of your son.

But baby Hugo will have his father.

What you don’t know yet is that we are watching in horror. You don’t have insurance to help with your recovery, but that doesn’t mean your life is over before your dreams have a chance to take flight. We are sitting at our computers and watching television and we are thinking about you. We’re talking about you and we’re worried. We’re shocked because, though we like to think we are powerful, this could have happened to any one of us or our loved ones. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and no one should have to pay for that forever. We know what we have to do. The human family is answering the call. We are telling others through social media, our blogs, our friends and our neighbors. We’re picking up our phones and gathering our forces. One madman can diminish us all in a sick act of violence, but working together, we can elevate everyone once more with our compassion. Humanity survives every insult and injury because of our compassion.

The SOS, your call for assistance, is spreading.

We will help in whatever way we can. You haven’t asked. You’re still in the netherworld, clawing your way back to us from the darkness, but we know what to do. We’re spreading the word and gathering money to help you and your family get past this tragedy. Sleep, Caleb. Rest. Your life is not over. You, your wife and your son will have a new beginning. We’re coming as fast as we can. Help is on the way. We, too, are brave, urgent and sure.

PLEASE GO TO SUPPORTCALEB.COM 

to help this young family.

We may not have much to give, but we have great numbers on our side. We are an army filled with compassion, so every donation, even a dollar, helps.

Thank you for coming to Caleb’s rescue.

(Need to know more? Check the links below.)

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We tell our stories. It’s not supposed to be about fame. Or is it?

Illustration depicting thought.

Image via Wikipedia

You’re at your computer. You’re in a coffee shop. You’re in your bed. You’re at your desk. You’re thinking of me reaching out to you through these words.

I’m here at my keyboard, typing these words, thinking of you and how isolated we are from each other.

I’m thinking about how isolation allows things to happen that shouldn’t. For instance, last week one of my pages was attacked in a creepy cyber way (and it still isn’t fixed completely. Costly tech support arrives today on a white horse, carrying new modems.) If the hacker knew me, he probably wouldn’t have done what he did. We’d kick back and have coffee instead. Our mutual isolation makes me a number. To him, I’m just another IP address, not a human being.

And yet, there is such potential for the electronic web that stretches out among us to pull into a tighter weave.

The Internet has such power and possibility if we can only figure out how to harness it.

For instance, this week on Kevin Smith’s podcast Plus One, Smith and his wife talked about how Mitch Albom hit him up for some help with a charity to feed a village of starving children. Albom needed $80,000 a year. Kevin generously got the charity ball rolling. Sure, if you’re rich, you can give. But if you’re rich and famous, you can give and alert others to the opportunity to give.

The Tiny Science of Your Fragile Humanity

Yes, a chance to donate is an opportunity. It’s your chance to provide aid. It feels good to give if you have something to give. It feels good because we are wired to be sympathetic. Our brains have mirror neurons that allow us to empathize so much we cry when we see an actor in emotional pain on a movie screen, even though we know it’s fiction.

Mirror neurons are that bit of biological microscopy and brain chemistry that make us human instead of irredeemable monsters bent only on survival by domination and murder. Boot camp, by the way, doesn’t turn off your mirror neurons, by the way. The discipline and brutality uses tribalism so your sympathy and courage is directed only to the benefit of your fellow soldiers.

That’s how you make good people do awful things.

To be creative and find an audience for your creativity is not just about making money. In fact, many artists would work for free (and many do) just for the love of art. Expression is often an inexplicable compulsion. If money comes, it is a side benefit. You hope to be paid for the fruits of your imagination, but wealth is something to be hoped for, not expected.

Seeing how privileged people use their influence to make the planet a better place, I see that I was wrong about fame. I undervalued it. I thought it had the potential to be a big pain in the ass, but that’s not fame’s only aspect. Now I see how it can be used beyond art. Fame can be a tool to help starving kids, for instance.

So many artists of all genres and stripes are poor. I wish you success (and much of the content here is aimed at helping you achieve it.) Success is important, but not just for you. Famous artists have bigger audiences. Famous artists make enough money so they can help others. There’s no nobility in a starving artist’s hovel. When you’re hungry, it’s very difficult to produce art.

 Getting paid is good. 

If you want to help the poor:

Don’t be one of them.

Recently, on The Biggest Loser, one of the contestants, Frado, found a way to use his good fortune to “pay it forward.” He had a clever idea. Frado won a session with chef Curtis Stone. Instead of just getting the expected tutorial for his family alone, Frado asked Stone to hook his name to a charity event. Stone cooked up some healthy food and Frado hosted five charities to raise more than $25,000. The hit and run tutorial would have come and gone. Frado found a way to use his newfound fame, and the celebrity’s chef’s notoriety, to make an impact on people’s lives.

It made me wonder, how can we harness social media, our fans and our followers, to help people in need? I think of the clients I know who have breast cancer or have had breast cancer. I think of my cousin and my neighbour, both hit with prostate cancer. My mother died of lung cancer though she never once smoked. These causes need research dollars. There are so many causes that need voices raised for them. There are so many everyday injustices and our silence is taken for complacency. I suppose, to my shame, that is what it is. 

I have undervalued fame. I didn’t think I should value it because that would make me shallow. Then I saw how fortunate people are using their fame in constructive ways. Now I have a larger goal beyond simple publication, teaching and the petty propagation of my little entertainments. I’m working on my books.  One day they will sell and I may achieve a little bit of recognition in some circles.

If we can get flash mobs together, how about flash protests and flash fundraisers? We try to make book trailers go viral. How about YouTube videos that show the needs that must be met. How about using our narrative powers to activate those mirror neurons so people are moved to help each other?

What then?

Better: What now?

Everyone dreams about what they’ll do if money comes their way.

What dreams can we light, as one flame fires another, with bright fame?  

What can I do in the meantime, in these mean times?

What can we achieve, working together?

We have the most power tools of connection and interactivity

that have ever existed. Now.

Please let me know your ideas.

There are too many hungry. There are too many sick. We will all be sick.

There are too few who are reaching out to draw the whole together.

We have to find the way. We can start small, but we must start.

You and I could make the change that others will not.

Let’s become WE. 

 

Filed under: DIY, grammar, Horror, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, Social Media, , , , , , , ,

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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