Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Happyness," and the pursuit thereof

Becoming homeless frightens me. Those who live without homes and those who used to do so amaze me. It is hard for me to imagine forging ahead with life in the face of such a circumstance, never mind going on to overcome it and to found a multimillion-dollar firm. But that is what Chris Gardner, founder of Gardner Rich & Company, did. The Pursuit of Happyness is Mr. Gardner's memoir of his rise from a poor childhood with a brutal stepfather and loving but defeated mother through his colorful adulthood, through his year of living homeless with a young son, and onward to his eventual triumph as a stockbroker and founder of a brokerage firm. Mr. Gardner, along with ghostwriter Quincy Troupe, do not flinch in relating the most heart-wrenching details of Mr. Gardner's life, not even when his choices are poor in the extreme.

Mr. Gardner's story of abandonment, deprivation and brutality during childhood is far from uncommon. But what saved him from becoming another heartbreaking failure? A combination of his mother's love and encouragement combined with his own intellectual superiority and curiosity plus some extremely lucky breaks drove him, as did his ability to see potential in opportunities, and his ability to focus on what he wanted.

Mr. Gardner's lack of a loving father-figure during childhood made him an intensely involved father to his own son, even when that meant a year of homelessness with his little boy. There were no dramatic resolutions to their living status, rather a long, gradual ascent that came from very hard work and sacrifice. Mr. Gardner thanks San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church for much of his rise to success. In fact, he is an active partner with that church even now, sponsoring the church's continuing commitment to those who live on the edge.

Mr. Gardner's riveting story is told in his own words, the language of the streets. I'm not a fan of such language, but this story was so compelling that I stayed with it. I like stories of people who rise above their circumstances, becoming victors, not victims, thus I am glad I read The Pursuit of Happyness.
Oh, and when you read this book, you'll find out why "happiness" is misspelled.
(submitted by Moon Rani)

No comments: