About eight or nine years ago, after Mark Daniels returned to his Missouri roots from spending some time in Guatemala. He would hear from the people he helped that he should write a book or have a movie made about his life.
“I help people in the private sector,” Daniels said, adding that he also speaks in front of groups. Their comments about writing a book didn’t really sink in at first, he noted, because he lived all those life lessons he was using to help others.
But it was after Daniel’s return, when he ran into an old friend from when he lived in Silex, that the idea became rooted in his mind. At the age of about 17, Daniels got a motorcycle and went off in search of adventure across the country and around the world. His friend went off to college and ended up starting a successful business in the St. Louis area.
“We got together and talked about what our lives had been like. We hadn’t seen each other in about 30 to 40 years. He said, ‘You should write a book.’” Daniels was skeptical, but his friend put him in touch with an author. At the time, Daniels explained, he wasn’t ready to put into writing the things he has in the book because his parents were still alive.
In the first chapter we learn that Daniel’s father had a heavy disciplinary hand, and would strike his children often.
Also, on the back cover of his book, “Coming Back Home: The True Adventures of Mark Daniels,” it states: “By 17 he’d bought a motorcycle and spent most of his time traveling from job to job and bar to bar across the U.S. He partied, abused every drug available, drank himself useless, and spent each night with a different woman.”
It was understandable why he was reluctant to put on paper what he’d done with his life, even though the life lessons he imparted to others because of what he learned from his transgressions would help them.
After his last wife left him about 19 years ago, Daniels raised his children. Once they were pretty well grown, he went traveling again. He was in and out of the county about 20 times until COVID hit. While in Columbia, South America, he met and dated a woman he would later break up with. That breakup put him in an emotional state, which he said, prompted him to start writing about his life.
“I thought I would take everybody’s advice and start writing,” he said. About 1½ years ago he sat down squeeze his life into the pages of the book he would eventually release last month. By then, his mother and father had already died, and he thought it would be OK to publish his memoirs.
Even though it was a rough childhood, Daniels said he appreciated everything his parents did for him. He showed drafts of the book to friends, who continued to encourage him to get it published.
“I could see if from their eyes then,” he said, that my life was a true adventure story.
“I wrote it with the intention to help others,” he said during a phone interview. “I wanted to let people know that no matter how many times you fail, if you just keep going—if you don’t give up—you can keep moving forward.”
Daniels was on a dark path, but back in 1989 he had his first professional boxing match. From that fight came a life altering revelation. He’d won and was feeling on top of the world. But later he went to a bar for a few drinks, after maintaining sobriety for more than a month while in training, and while looking around, he said, he thought to himself, “Is this all there is?”
From that time on, he noted, he didn’t get anything out of drinking. A breakup with the woman he was dating at the time, put Daniels in another emotional low, and from that he realized he needed to make a change in his life. He been to jail and spoken with other prisoners after getting out in order to help them avoid the cycle of returning to incarceration.
About the time he turned 30, Daniels said he started searching for what was missing from his life, and with that, he turned and asked God for help.
“I’m not a religious person at all,” he added. “My biggest challenge in life is to let go.” He has to sit back and left life play out. He did a lot of reading and learned that sometimes you just need to speak with others about life and what they’ve encountered along their paths.
“I speak on interpersonal relationships and the metaphysical,” he said. He liked to quote the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just take the first step.” Once you take that step, you will see the next one, he added.
The book is available through Amazon Books. Daniels also started a YouTube channel, which is dedicated to “help men become better versions of themselves.” He also posts to Instagram almost every day.