Bryan Scott has been chasing a fox for the past eight years.
He has followed it down city streets and open fields, across front porches and supper tables. He has run after it in his daydreams, keeping vigil on a patient and prayerful path.
It has been a worthwhile pursuit, though, so much that it became the name of the company that grew out of his vision. He now hopes to share it with friends, neighbors, churches, schools, libraries and maybe even the wider world.
Bryan will celebrate his 45th birthday on Monday. He’s not quite old enough to be having a mid-life crisis nor young enough to run off and join the circus.
But he is taking a giant leap of faith, and he knows it. There is no other way to explain why a happily married, father of three, would begin closing the books on his law practice to devote his efforts to promoting a children’s book and a stuffed animal.
Last month, Bryan and his wife, Julie, launched their new company, appropriately called Worthwhile Pursuits, LLC. The first of what they hope will be a line of products is a children’s book, “Find Me, Funzy the Fox.’’ Bryan created it with the support and contributions of Julie and their three children — Avery, 14, Brynn, 12, and Asa, 10.
It features a seven-day interactive game of hide and seek with a stuffed animal fox named “Funzy.’‘ Guided by clues in the book, grown-ups are prompted to hide Funzy in different locations.
With only 28 pages and 178 words, why did it take more than 3,000 days of fox chasing for Funzy to see the light of day?
“People say it has been a fun-filled ride,’’ Julie said. “We say it has been a faith-filled ride.’’
Julie and Bryan were high school sweethearts at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, where Julie’s mother, Shirley Kitchings, has been an English teacher since 1982.
It was in Shirley’s sophomore English class where Bryan first noticed Julie, who was in the eighth grade. She walked in the classroom one day to tell something to her mom.
He turned to a friend. “That girl,’’ he said, “is going to make a great wife for somebody.’’
They began dating at the end of his junior year. She followed him to Mercer University, where he pursued a degree in political science, and she majored in early childhood education. They married in 1996. Bryan is a local attorney. Julie is beginning her seventh year as a gifted teacher at Tattnall, after spending 16 years in Bibb County public schools.
Bryan has a mind that never stops working. Even on their honeymoon, he was drawing pictures and connecting ideas. When their children started coming along, he would turn stories into playful games.
He was convinced he had a book inside him, so he began channeling his inner author. Because of his legal background, he even fancied himself as another John Grisham.
“Every time I had an idea, I would run it by Julie, and she would give it a thumbs down,’’ he said, laughing.
He approached her with a storyline involving a fox and a hide-and-seek quest. When she didn’t roll her eyes, Bryan rolled up his sleeves and went to work.
The project may have been about a fox, but it moved at a snail’s pace.
“I did a lot of praying for eight and a half years,’’ Bryan said. “I kept asking God if he wanted me to pursue it. I had a family to take care of and a law practice. It was not the time.’’
There were Saturday mornings when he would climb on a deer stand with his rifle. He wasn’t hunting foxes … he never even saw one … but they certainly were on his mind. He carried along a small laptop with a word processor to capture his thoughts. A rough draft of the elusive story, minus the illustrations, eventually followed him out of the woods.
Bryan and Julie were tight-lipped on telling family members about the project. But, three years ago, they decided it was time to bring the children on board.
“We told them they couldn’t tell anyone else about it,’’ Bryan said. “It was great for our family that we could trust our kids.’’
Amazingly, the children were able to keep the secret, and the decision to make it a team effort proved pivotal. Avery, Brynn and Asa have been their parents’ biggest cheerleaders and toughest critics.
“It has been awesome,’’ Bryan said.
Julie and Bryan found an enthusiastic illustrator in Pensacola, Florida, and other pieces of the puzzle started fitting together.
They did, however, struggle with a name for the company. The inspiration came to Bryan when he was backing out of his driveway.
“There was a preacher on the radio who used the word ‘worthwhile,’ ’’ Bryan said. “And I thought, ‘That’s it!’ We had been trying to think of a name forever, and then I heard that word. Some pursuits are worth your while, and the idea of spending time with your children is worth your while.’’
Since Funzy arrived last month, the Scott family has been busy getting the word out. Bryan soon hopes to have the boxed product available in local book stores, toy stores and gift shops. (The product now is available at worthwhilepursuits.com.)
“Whenever either of us would start to get anxious or apprehensive about it, our strength would come from the other,’’ Julie said. “We waited because we didn’t want anyone, even unintentionally, to say it was crazy before we got a chance to launch it. We wanted to be a little further down the road so that everyone understood this wasn’t just an idea we were toying around with. We were serious enough that we were willing to risk a lot. It has been a huge sacrifice for our family.’’
So, they have taken a deep breath and swallowed hard. Ready. Set. Go.
If you chase a fox long enough, one day you will catch it.
Ed Grisamore is a journalism teacher at Stratford Academy in Macon and the 2010 recipient of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, presented by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.