The following is a speech I gave at an event in Muscat, Oman, for the launch of Mirabella and the Pearl of Chulothe, a book I worked on with its author. It touches on some of my core beliefs in the power of words and stories to make an impact on people.
In 1980, as a young man serving in the United States Navy, my ship made a port call to Muscat. I was only twenty years old but had already traveled to a dozen countries, several in the Middle East and the Gulf region. My first day visiting Muscat I knew this was a special place above all others I’d been to. It had all the majesty and history of famous places I had visited but had one thing I sensed the others lacked. It touched my soul where the others had not. Perhaps it was something carried on the wind or that lived in the mountains or deep in the soil and sands—I don’t know where it came from—but felt it. A peace and calm along with a strong pulse that makes one appreciate life.
This past Monday, my first morning here at the beautiful Al Bustan Palace, while having coffee on the terrace facing the sea, I felt it again. It made me stop, hold my breath for a long minute, and then exhale. I looked at the blue sky above the azure water framed by rugged mountains—and had a clear, distinct moment when all I thought was how beautiful life and our world is. For a moment that still lingers—even now while speaking to you—I felt like I was twenty years old again. Calm and at peace with bright hope for the future.
This made me reflect on what led me back to Oman.
Words brought me here again. Something so simple but so powerful.
My vocation as a publisher and writer has taken me to many beautiful places and it has brought me back to a place I remembered so fondly from my past and to a feeling that often gets lost or buried in the hectic world we all live in.
I believe that words and stories are the most powerful force in the world. The words we read, the words we say and the words we hear can transport us to our past, can make our present a better place and gives us a sense of hope for our future.
A wise Omani man told me that to make our world better, “we must focus on the people.” I agree with him. Not abstract ideas or perfect world scenarios, not government or political agendas. We must talk about the people.
Improving our life and our world is completely about how we act and interact with each other. It’s about humanity.
Humans are more alike than we are different and it is common experience and interests that become a bond that establishes a better understanding of each other. With understanding comes better communication and better communication shortens the path to mutual respect. Something the world needs more of.
There is no better way to make a connection to our shared collective experience than through stories. As a publisher and writer, my focus is to bring to life stories that contain powerful and positive messages presented to the reader within an entertaining story.
I am so very proud of Laila and her book. Its message of inclusion and acceptance of all people and cultures is compelling and complements another fiction series we are working on with its message about taking better care of our planet, its resources, animals and each other. These two fiction series will have adventures that bring the main characters to Oman and through them, I hope to spread to others what I feel here—peace and hope. I cannot think of a finer setting for the words to come to life for the reader.
Through our books and efforts, we will promote a positive message and do our part to make our world better… one word at a time.
Thank you, Laila, for such a wonderful book and for being my friend. Through you and Mirabella I have the opportunity to be here today, in a very special place, with a very special people. I believe over three decades ago part of Oman stayed with me and coming back awoke it—and it feels wonderful.
Thank you all for sharing this moment with us, for your hospitality and that of the Al Bustan Palace and most of all for the opportunity to come back to Oman and feel its beauty again in my heart. I know I will return and look forward to that day.