Yesterday, my book, One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree was released. That day, I had no launch party. I had no book signing. I did no promotion online. I spent the day at work, tutoring students in the College Learning Resource Center, handing out hope.
This week is finals week for the College students at Southeast Technical. In this week, lives are changed. Most of my work at the end of the semester is helping struggling students pass classes. Most of my work at the end of the semester is telling students, “there is still hope.”
If you were to read my book One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree, the story of a boy who is gobbled up by a big hungry snake, you would find that it is a story about hope. I remember the day One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree popped into my head. I was a newly married, disabled graduate school student studying at Hamline University. And during that time, I worked part-time as a janitor, at a small preschool five miles from from where I lived.
I took the 84 bus to Rosedale Mall, and from there I would walk two miles to work, rain, snow, or shine. I would often get there around 7 o’clock. I cleaned the preschool’s little potties, swept the floors, and vacuumed the offices. The whole job took me about two to three hours. And it was there, in that preschool, surrounded by stuffed animals, children’s books, and vivid color that the story of the Eucalyptus Tree materialized.
If you were to read the book, perhaps you could hear the little-playground-rocks, left in the carpet by little shoes, popping into the humming vacuum, or the broom shushing over the marmoleum floor, or the spritz of my cleaner dusting the pee-stained toilets with antibacterial film. And when my job was done about ten p.m., I would again slog the two miles to the bus stop, wait for the 84, and arrive home around midnight.
And in that place of darkness and in those difficult dark days, I lived on dreams and the hope of others.
Would my situation ever change? Would I ever be rehabilitated? How was I going to live life without driving? Would my new wife leave me? So many fears.
But all the while there was hope. My wife gave me hope, my faith gave me hope, The faculty at Hamline University gave me hope, the kindness of others gave me hope. And if you fill up a problem with enough hope, perhaps that problem will not be able to contain all that hope — all the people who believe in you, all their love, all their goodness, and all their faith — that it will have no option but to spew you and all your hope out upon the world. For I must believe, that problems can handle only so much hope, and, It is with this heart, I hope the story of One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree fills up the lives of children with the one thing I want most for them in a world full of problems: hope.