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Author Talk At Left Bank Books
March 5, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
On Sunday, March 5, Waldo County native Alton Lane will share his remarkable life story at Left Bank Books beginning at 3 pm. Lane grew up in poverty and suffered violence, abuse and addiction from childhood until his early thirties, when he was finally able to turn his life around. With the help of narrative historian Meghan Vigeant, Lane has written Only Human: A Journey from Convict to Mentor, a compelling memoir that takes its readers on a wild roller coaster ride from despair to joy, from hopelessness to inner peace.
Lane’s story packs a punch from the start: “When I was a boy,” he writes, “I’d wake up in the morning to sound of the birds chirping. They sounded so happy. I’d take my BB gun, go outside, and try to shoot the birds. I hated birds. I hated happy people. . .because I couldn’t be happy. It made me sad to hear birds singing about their happiness, knowing that I never could be happy.” That profound unhappiness and pain rapidly propelled Lane into the world of alcohol and drugs. First arrested at age 12, Lane was in and out of area prisons with regularity until age 33, when he got his first real break in life by being assigned a six-month sentence at the Maine Coast Regional Reentry Center in Belfast. There, Lane received counseling, took recovery classes, and began doing community service.
It was also where Lane met Peggy Smith, a turning point in his life that he recounts in a chapter called, “The Nuttiest Woman I Ever Met.” He writes: “I went to this Nonviolent Communication class taught by a woman named Peggy Smith. In the first class, I told her she was crazy. ‘You’re the nuttiest woman I’ve ever met. You’re higher than I’ve ever been if you think I’m going to sit here in this class with a bunch of men and talk to you about how I feel. You’re nuts. Let’s just forget this.’” That was five years ago. Today, Lane teaches the same class in nonviolent communication that he once scorned. “I am so different now. I have joy and happiness with myself. . . .Today, I would call myself a compassionate, loving person, kind of a wimpy human being, like a sissified tweety bird. Okay, I don’t really mean that. The work I’ve done, opening up my wounds, learning to communicate in a healthy, positive way, reconnecting with my family. . .all this took courage. So, I guess I’m a courageous tweety bird now.”
Jerome Weiner, the Program Manager at the Reentry Center says that Lane’s example is what the residents need. “He really tells them what it was like. I’ve seen Alton cry in front of a class. I’ve seen him plead with guys to change their ways. He connects with them.” For the first time in his life, Lane knows exactly what he wants to do. “My main goal is teaching guys at the Reentry Center. I think I’ve found my little spot. It almost feels like I belong there.”
The public is warmly invited to this free event. Copies of Lane’s memoir ($12) will be available for purchase. Please call (207-338-9009) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for reservations and with any questions.