Sunset near Twizel, New Zealand on the day of our story.
TWIZEL, NEW ZEALAND — Not every conversation I had in New Zealand is fair game for publication at If they all were, people would have spoken with me a lot less and a lot less openly or maybe just have not spoken with me at all.

During one such private meeting, a shared photo led to a side conversation that led to a revelation about an act of kindness that hit me, and still hits me, in my core. Somebody I knew, not in New Zealand, had heroically withstood some of life’s trials and others, in New Zealand, had selflessly performed a service for them. I can’t relate the story here because it was unmistakably not an interview situation and even the people on the receiving end of the generosity have kept it to themselves.

I was amazed by the revelation at the time and I was on the road much of the next 24 hours, meaning I was alone with my thoughts; Despite having a lot to ponder, this bit of unselfishness stayed with me for the entire drive when I wasn’t distracted by things like getting lost or finding a place to stay.

Before the rest of the story, a warning: Beware of becoming famous. Because when you do, everybody wants something and thinks the famous or rich can deliver it. Bill Gates, Oprah and actors and song divas are often seen as personal heroes and potential wish-granting demi-gods.

For example, Peter Jackson is so famous around the world these days that his very name is worth a lot of money to a film’s bottom line and there are many people, organizations and companies that want something from him. Most of those wants are not sinister while others do seek to exploit. But because there are many thousands of them, it becomes impossible for anybody to accommodate even a small percentage of the many who would look to Jackson for something.

A group from my own state of Utah has been publicly lobbying for a chance to be in Jackson’s films but their wish isn’t unique and their approach isn’t going to work.

Even my byline here at leads people to believe that I can somehow help them contact Jackson or Hobbit actors so they can make a plea and have a wish granted. The first problem is, I don’t have direct contact with Peter Jackson but if I did, and I forwarded his email or phone number as often requested, I definitely would no longer have direct contact with him. And yes, I know its that person’s life-long wish to be in a Middle-earth film, even as an extra, but it happens to be the same wish that thousands and thousands of other people (at least) have so, you know, get in line.

Anyway, back to our story: I learned of this lovely thing that happened, facilitated by some of Jackson’s team, and I just never have gotten over it. I contacted the far-away friends that were involved to let them know I knew, and it was a joyous email exchange for me to be able to share with them. I was touched in the deepest way and heartened and inspired by a single unpublicized, unreported act of kindness. It meant a lot to me to know that wonderful things can and do happen to deserving people.

Out of this same personal conversation grew my visit to Hobbiton Movie Set and the opportunity for to publish pictures of what only weeks before had been in front of the camera during filming for The Hobbit. And while I greatly appreciated that visit, it couldn’t compare with the quiet, peaceful knowledge that something amazing had happened for a friend I love and admire.

In an ironic twist, the end of my personal New Zealand journey was made much, much easier because of a personal kindness from the same camp. A giant weight was lifted off my shoulders because somebody stepped in to help in a moment of need. I am humbled and sincerely appreciative but even as invaluable as that was on a very personal level, it can’t touch the depths of my feelings like the other thing I am writing about with such a lack of detail.

Someday, when it is appropriate and with the permission of all parties involved, I would love the chance to tell the story of what I am alluding to. It isn’t my story to tell though and I wouldn’t dream of jumping unwanted into something that has nothing to do with me. However, readers and fans should know that often quietly, sometimes invisibly, personal miracles do happen. People with the ability to make a difference do profoundly impact others’ lives.

The thought enriched my own holiday season and before we collectively move into the New Year, I thought it was important to give public praise for private works and let readers know there are some good people behind the scenes working wonders.

So, sincerely, my heartfelt thanks.