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The story no one cares about
by Mark Harris
December 14, 2009

It's the story no one cares to read or watch on screen. It's boring and lacks excitment.

It's the story of the person who follows the rules and stays within the lines doing everything he or she was supposed to do.

Even in the Biblical story of the "Prodical Son", it's the tale of the son that took his inheritance, spends it all and strays that interests, and inspires us.

Just a simple man's (lor woman's) journey through life, faded within the fabric of those who quiety and humbly pull the strings of the curtain behind the scenes. No Best-Sellers, no biographies, no movies or book deals are told of the straightlaced rule follower unless we get to see them fall from grace.

I was reading in the memoirs of a distant relative who recounted briefly of story of my grandmother Eleanor's grandfather, Patrick McGrath, who lived in San Francisco at the time of the great earthquake of 1906 and had to be relocated to live in a tent with his 5 children all under the age of 12, due to the devastation. Months before the earthquake, his wife died giving birth to their last child. It's a sad tragic story, but within the memoirs, the author of the journal tells the simple story of a man named Patrick, my grandmother's grandfather, who worked selfessly and tirelessly to get his family out of poverty, and out of the tent. He says he never went out drinking after work, but came straight home to his young children. And because of this seemingly non important choice, his children grew up admiring him and passed on his legacy and respect they had for their father to their children.

Aside from family memoirs and those that knew him, Patrick McGrath is an unknown blip in history. No books were ever written of him, no movies, no exciting tales. Patrick was merely a simple man who's life may have lacked excitement and danger, but instead he'll be admired quietly for generations for working hard and loving his children.

It's so easy to stay on the paved-boring path and do whats right, critics will say. Some will call them unexciting, sheep or followers.

We've seen this tale before though. As hard times and trials come around, they that willingly stray off the paved path, will often seek justification, making excuses for their predicament and misfortunes while mocking and pointing how "easy" it is for their boring and predictable counterparts to be good.

Is it easy to be good?

The answer depends on our choices. But usually no. Temptation and unfavorable circumstances come regardless of who we are. My great-great-grandfather Patrick could have easily went out drinking every night after work like so many did in the early 1900s, burying his sorrows, cursing his maker for losing a wife, a baby and home due to disaster, compounded with impoverish circumstances and chose to neglect his children. But he did not do that. Our choices either give us new doorways and paths through good choices or we paint ourselves into a corner. Its far easier to throw consequences to the wind, living selfishly in the moment than living responsibly avoiding pitfalls.

In the end, the tale of those that stray and are fallen interests us because they're exciting. I believe it can also offers us hope that there's a way back. We all love a good comeback story.

But what about those that consistently make good choices and choose not to fall at all? Where is their story?

Very much like my great-great grandfather Patrick, though not publically known, void of attention and spotlight, we all know these silent heroes, inspired men and women in our lives who quietly and humbly show us how to live through their example.

I feel lucky to have these examples to look to. But whether we do or not, its still up to us how we're going to live our life and what kind of a legacy we expect to leave for the generations that come behind us.

Though we may not always watch or read stories of these individuals in hardbound book or on the big screen, it takes more than coming out on top of cool explosions and fight scenes to be a real hero.

- m a r k


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