He is known for his radiant smile, random acts of kindness, enthusiastic patronage of Huntington Village business establishments, and most especially, his ardent support of authors at Book Revue book signing events.
His name is Magnus Walsh, and now he has a story of his own to tell. Five O’Clock & All’s Well is Magnus’ compilation in book form of his own interactions with fellow Huntington residents, and the insightful take-aways he offers from those personal experiences. It is a quick and delightful read released in perfect time just before Christmas and Hanukkah to underscore the power and joy of goodwill toward others.
Magnus’ moment of inspiration occurred on January 15, 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 was successfully ditched in the Hudson River six minutes after takeoff after being disabled by a flock of Canada geese. “I was mesmerized by this event and overcome by emotion over its successful outcome. It exemplified to me that good things can come from bad,” Magnus recalled.
And so came the impetus that set Magnus on a quest to find ways to transform any bad or ordinary day, whether it be his own or another’s, into a good day. Magnus’ tools to kick the blues and bad moods include a big wide smile, a loud hearty laugh, a good deed, a positive attitude, and appreciation of nature and life’s simple pleasures. These are not especially tall demands for a fellow who possesses a clear joie de vivre and immense love for people. So much affection, in fact, Magnus refers to his new book as “a love letter to my readers.”
Much like a diary, each chapter of Magnus’ book chronicles a memorable day in his life interacting with neighbors, friends, local merchants or perfect strangers in and around Huntington. The brevity and simplicity of each entry gives me pause. In my own writing I work to draw out obscure or elusive themes connected to people and situations. Magnus doesn’t have to dig that deep to touch his readers. Through each vignette, Magnus shows us that most everything we need to know to bring joy to others or to ourselves is usually sitting right at the surface.
But even the jovial Magnus admits that at times he battles the blues and a few of them are chronicled in his book. “It’s completely natural to find yourself or others around you down in the dumps and there’s no shame in that,” Magnus told me. “My message is we all have the power to break those bad cycles if we only set our minds to it.” In one example, Magnus washes away the bitter taste of waiting too long at the Department of Motor Vehicles by chasing it down with a sweet bargain at nearby Marshalls.
Magnus loves to write and it shows. But as with most things in his life, Magnus brought this book to us with a little help from his friends known as the Magnus Book Planning Committee (or the “MBPC”). In his book, the author thanks the MBPC for their encouragement, review and good suggestions from start to finish. MBPC members include B. Hanson, Helen Crosson, Michael Fairchild, Walter Kolos, Pam Sherlock and Terry Walton.
Interestingly, Magnus told me that his new book is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. As I ponder to make the connection between Fitzgerald’s entertaining yet ultimately tragic Roaring Twenties saga and Magnus’ opus, Magnus opens my eyes once again. He reminds me, “Jay Gatsby lived each day of his life as if it were his last, and he was never judgmental of people.” It’s no surprise that Magnus is also a huge fan of Mitch Albom, author of numerous mood lifting and bestselling books. Albom’s breakthrough book, Tuesdays with Morrie,remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 205 weeks.
So on fire with the release of his new book, Magnus is on a literary tear. His goal is to publish one book a year for the next ten years. He already knows the title of the next one will be Three O’Clock & All’s Well and it will feature vignettes associated with school aged children. After that, Magnus plans to write Gone to the Beach. And just like Five O’Clock & All’s Well, his next books will be available at his all-time favorite Huntington bookstore, Book Revue. For Magnus, this is the stuff of which dreams are made.
I have just received one of the very first copies of Magnus’ book. I am anxious to read it in between last minute Christmas shopping and holiday preparations. So off it goes with me to the nail salon where I now have one hand on the manicure table, and the other balancing Magnus’ book on my lap as I read. I am smiling as I learn about the grumpy waitress who wasn’t so grumpy after earning a big tip and how and why Magnus was Jewish for one day.
Suddenly, I am inspired. I realize that in all of the time I have been getting my manicure from Sandra, she rarely smiles. I look up a few times in an attempt to make eye contact and offer her a sincere smile. Sandra manages a half smile, but quickly returns to the important work of making my nails perfect for the holidays. She is a skilled and hard worker who deserves a good day. I am thinking to myself, now what would Magnus do?
And then it dawns to me. The answer is so simple! I offer Sandra a spectacular tip. As I hand the bill to Sandra the pleasure is all mine in watching the joy slowly register on her face that culminates in one of the most gracious smiles I have ever seen. She almost jumps across the manicure table to thank me. Sandra is happy because she’s had a good day.
But with the exhilaration I’m now feeling for having carried out a good deed, I know Sandra’s good day cannot possibly top mine.