My fiancé Sharon and I like jigsaw puzzles. We like the journey of finding pieces and their interlocking partners and out of the chaos of a mound of cut cardboard, together creating a beautiful image. Often these images are thought-provoking and engender wonderful conversations. We did a puzzle one recent Saturday night with a collection of book covers, which prompted many have-you-read-this conversations. It took us hours seated across from one another at the kitchen table in my apartment. We sipped wine and listened to streaming smooth jazz. It was a lovely experience. The thing was, we had that puzzle for about two weeks. It was a thoughtful house warming gift from her and it was appropriate because we are both word nerds and love books. But the puzzle, with all its potential energy stored in a box, sat in plain view for that time period. It was right in front of us, but so was the myriad of other distractions and gotta-get-tos in our lives. One morning as I sat having my coffee, and listening to an audiobook on life design, I grabbed the box, unsealed it and began placing the pieces on the table. Looking for the flat-edged side pieces like I used to hunt for the peanuts in a box of Cracker Jacks when I was a kid. I gathered as many of the side pieces I could find and put some together. Then I had to stop to take care of the business of life and left the very unfinished puzzle on the table. A couple of days later, Sharon came over, saw the puzzle and said, “Ah, you started without me,” but seeing the potential energy released, we succumbed to the temptation and set forth on its completion. It occurs to me that a lot of life is like that. We buy a book, only to have it live its life on the shelf unread. We dream a dream, only to let it wither on its gotta-get-to branch. We like the idea of something more than the work that needs to be put into it. That is until it gets started. Until the potential energy is released. And then … it’s on. Whether it is getting the first sentence in that novel we want to write, or the shoelace tied on the running shoe which will carry you out the door on a cold morning when you just want to stay in bed. It’s about getting past the idea of wanting to do something; wanting to be something and doing it. Nike had it right with its 1988 ad campaign, “Just do it.” That’s really all it takes. Once upon a time, I worked in a bookstore with a great man named Christian House. Christian was a math geek and adored by all who knew him for his quirky sense of humor and honest assessment of things. One day, he and I were standing in front of a very heavy bookcase which needed to be relocated. As we puzzled out how to best accomplish this, he turned to me and said, “Thom, all we need to do is overcome the coefficient of inertia.” We needed to put it on sliders and budge it from its carpet-indented grip. Once the initial thrust created motion, it wasn’t difficult to continue moving it. The mission was accomplished once we put the work behind the idea. Sharon and I bought another puzzle recently, and it has been sitting in its box on my kitchen table. This morning I opened it and began sorting the pieces….
"You smell like books and coffee." For almost three decades I did. I’d come home from working in a major chain bookstore and be told, “You smell like books and coffee.” Sometimes that was followed with, “I love it.” Other times, “Take a shower.”
But I did love it and will continue to love books and coffee. My new venture is 3 Llama Press, which is a publishing, content distribution, and media company. That we don’t actually have a printing press or, well, llamas, is beside the point. The company rocks and has a philanthropic arm to it, with a percentage of the sales donated to pre-kindergarten education services and Title 1 initiatives. Another portion is earmarked for community relief, available for when the community needs it most.
Retired Admiral William McRaven’s commentary that the state of our education system in the United States is the most significant threat to our national security inspires me and moves me to action. A friend of mine, Sharon E. Reed, who spends much time writing and talking about politics and development, says that impact begins at the local level.
The point is, 3 Llama Education is more than just a wholesaler and brokerage company; we strive to serve the communities of which we are a part. We want to grow so that we can give more. And, I want to do so while drinking coffee and reading books.
Heck, we may even develop a perfume or cologne.
Thomas P. Hayes
Thom Hayes has spent over three decades writing, editing, publishing, distributing and selling the written word. He has published over 1500 articles nationally and internationally, both as a civilian freelance writer and a Public Affairs Chief in the US ARMY and US ARMY National Guard, where he earned the Keith L. Ware Award for his reporting in Kosovo in 2003.