Well, now you know how I felt this morning.
Because when I checked my emails this morning, there was an email there titled:
“You just blew my mind”
It was a reply to one of my emails, from someone called “Paul”.
“Nice,” I thought.
I mean, since I email daily, every day I get replies from people who’ve enjoyed the previous day’s email.
But, someone saying I “blew their mind” is a first.
So I click, and start reading the first line:
“Hello Daniel, you are kind. Thank you for your email.”
“Well, that’s kind of a weird response,” I think, wondering which email they were talking about.
I mean, sure — I guess my copywriting tips are so good it’s criminal to give ‘em away free like this. But it’s the first time someone’s called me “kind” for it!
I keep going:
“I guess you don’t know, but Paul died in February of this year from metastasized colon cancer. I am responding on his behalf via his email account. This is Karen, his wife.”
Is this … some kind of prank?
A mistaken email?
A sick joke?
I’m confused for a second.
But then, I look at the length of the email … the typos sprinkled throughout … and the strange subject matter … and realise what’s going on:
It’s a spam email.
Now it makes sense to me why I’m reading this strange message.
Although I have to chuckle to myself:
Telling me “Paul” is dead, and it’s his wife?
Probably, to get money out of me?
That’s pretty … bold.
And it assumes I even know a Paul. Which I suppose is a good guess, because most people would know a Paul.
But not for me.
I don’t know anyone called Paul—
A chill runs down my back.
And I remember something from three days ago:
A post-apocalyptic novel, to be precise.
I was lying there in bed, reading it before I fell asleep.
And then — one of the most brilliant plot twists I’d ever seen had appeared.
And it was so good …
I’d actually gotten out of bed, and gone to my computer to send an email to the author, telling him how much I appreciated what he’d just done in his story.
And then — I’d even written an email a few days later to my own list, talking about how I’d enjoyed the book so much.
What was his name?
I remember …
Paul Antony Jones.
“Oh, no,” I whisper.
And I remember the subject line of the email I’d sent him:
“You just blew my mind”
The same subject line I’m looking at right now.
It’s not this person’s subject line … it’s mine.
Aghast, my eyes fly back to the email and keep reading:
“Paul was only 53 and 4 months old. He mistook his symptoms as being lactose intolerant as he did not exhibit the typical symptoms one finds listed on internet sites. By the time I could convince him to see a doctor, the dye was cast. He was stage 4. Please keep this in the back of your mind and do have regular checkkups.”
She writes a few more things thanking me.
Enough that I know this isn’t a joke at all:
Paul Antony Jones — the author who’d delighted me so much that I’d written an email about his books to you just a few days ago — is dead.
It’s not so much that I’m personally affected. I mean, I never knew the man.
But at the same time, it feels so shocking.
I’d been reading his books for years. I’d seen his bio a few times. I was looking forward to his next book, which was due out a few days before my birthday later this year.
And now … I find out he’s dead.
It’s sad, and sobering.
I’ll miss his writing, for sure.
But amongst other things, I take it as a lesson:
You never know which breath is going to be your last.
And when death does come, as it inevitably will …
Will you be able to say you used the time well?
Now, don’t get me wrong.
That could (and does) have many meanings. And you’re probably wincing, waiting for this Christian copywriter to start preaching at you.
But I appreciate that you’re reading these emails for copywriting tips.
So you can just think of it in terms of your creative output:
Are you satisfied that you’ve been a creator?
Using your skills and talents and gifts to do the most wonderful thing humans are capable of — creating things that make the world better?
Or have you been — as so many people — nothing more than a mindless consumer?
I realised earlier this year that I’d spent most of my life as the latter.
I read lots of books. I learned a lot. But I’d never really contributed to the world.
Which is one of the reasons I send daily emails now.
Yes, it’s good for business and getting clients and proving my skills and teaching people.
But for me, it has another meaning.
It also changes my identity at a far deeper level:
Now, I’m a creator.
Now, I’m a writer.
Now, I’m an artist.
Every day I use my God-given gifts to create something new, and give it to the world.
And that may just be more important than any other reason I have for doing this.
Especially knowing that one day — like this author, Paul, and many others before him — I too will type my last word, and be forgotten.
Which is why, I suppose, a man wiser than I once said:
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;
for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom,
in the grave, whither thou goest.
And so, forgive me that today there was no fun story, or quick subject line tip.
But I hope this realisation is something more valuable.
And I hope it inspires you to use the gifts God’s given you, too:
To create something.
To do some good.
To make a difference.
Today — while you still can.
And if you have something wonderful you’re doing — something that’s changing the world — and you would like my help on the copy, you can apply to work with me here, and I can help you.
But you don’t need my help to get started.
In fact, if anything, by reading my email right now … you’re still being a consumer.
But you can change that.
You have gifts in you that can help someone — and mercifully, you still have time to use them.
Don’t let today go to waste.