Nov 242009

Another exercise I had was to write a thank you letter for one of my happy pieces of encouragement…

As I mentioned in my post yesterday I had a very hard time coming up with three enemies to my creative self-worth due to the fact that I had far more positive artistic influences in my life than negative ones. That said, I had an equally hard time listing three positives because there were a LOT to choose from. I did manage to finally pick three to write down, and of the influences I selected was Salvatore “Sam” Falco.

I met same several years ago when my buddy Ross invited me to join a heroes based role-playing game that he was in with some of his friends. This was the same game in which I met and made friends with Richard Rosengren. That weekend game ended up lasting for several years and goes down in history as being one of the most enjoyable tabletop role-playing game experience in my life. A lot of that is thanks to Sam. He was, without a doubt, the finest game master I have ever had the pleasure of gaming with. He told rich, interesting stories an managed to keep us moving along his plots without stifling our creative freedom (or discouraging us from taking the story in a completely different direction than the one he had in mind for us). Sam is, unsurprisingly, a writer as well. When he and I were in regular contact he frequently complimented me on my writing and encouraged me to do more of it.

For my birthday in 2003 Sam gave me a book. The Artist’s Way.  In it he wrote the following –

Mike –

You have within you the capacity for creating great art, whether through performance, writing, or any other method. Let it be free!

Happy Birthday!


At the time Sam gave me that book I wasn’t ready for it.  It sat on my shelf and eventually got put into a box of books to sell. Years later Krystalle had it recommended to her as a way to help improve her writing and she picked up her own copy. When I saw it I laughed and told her I had a copy somewhere and she chided me for having gone out and purchased her own when there was one in the house.

A few months ago we had a yard sale and, while going through the boxes of books I had to get rid of, I stumbled across the copy Sam had given me. I pulled it out and opened the front cover and saw the inscription written there that I posted above. I thought about it for a moment and took the book back inside the house.

It is now sitting on the desk next to me as I write this.

When Sam gave me The Artist’s Way I wasn’t really ready for it. I am now. What I once almost scoffed at I am now taking very seriously. Sam saw the potential in me, and even if I wasn’t ready then he saw that I could one day tap into it and he gave me a tool that he thought would be beneficial in me.

I’ve lost contact with Sam over the years. I’ve seen him out and about a few times in public and he’s always cordial but, for some reason, there seems to be a distance between us now. I’m not sure if I did something to offend him or if he simply moved on with is life, but it is pretty clear that it was a conscious decision. I asked a mutual friend of ours at one point if she had any idea what I might have done to offend him and she very quickly changed the subject so I dropped it. I don’t want to impose myself where I am not wanted, and from what I have heard Sam isn’t even gaming any more (while we had other mutual interests that was, by far, the strongest connector between us). My life is a little less interesting without Sam in it, but it certainly isn’t a cause for great personal distress. I occasionally think of him, smile, remember some good times, and wonder how he is doing.

But if for some reason he stumbles across this I would like him to know that the vote of confidence he gave to me in the inscription he wrote in that book was a priceless gift. I didn’t realize it at the time and I almost foolishly tossed it aside. I got lucky and realized what a wonderful gift it was before it was too late.

Thanks, Sam.

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