I am perpetually on the hunt for a great biography. I get inspired to write bits of my own story by peering into the open book of someone else’s life. When people take action to write their painfully beautiful life they write their heart and capture the reader. They show vulnerability knowing that it is so easy for people to attack what has been written, for words on paper can never be taken back. The spoken word is easily twisted and misinterpreted. However the written word is unchangeable. These are the reasons I love biographies.
While on my hunt I stumbled upon the book An Invisible Thread. I read the back of the book and made my way to the checkout. For weeks this book sat on my desk staring at me waiting for me to read it. I had two other books that I needed to finish first but I couldn’t shake the thought of reading this one. Finally one peaceful day last week I opened the book and was unable to put it down. After several hours and tears I finished the book feeling refreshed and thankful that someone took the time to share their story.
Laura Schroff is an ad executive at USA Today in the mid 1980’s when the news paper was just starting to really take off. She had planned to go to the U.S. Open this particular Monday but it had been rained out. After a while the rain stopped and she decided to take a walk. It was that walk that changed her life forever.
“Another thing to remember is this is New York in the 1980’s a time when vagrants and panhandlers were as common a sight as kids on bikes or moms with strollers. After a while you got used to the sight of them-hard, gaunt men and sad haunted woman wearing rags, camped out on corners, sleeping on grates, asking for change. It’s tough to imagine anyone could see them and not feel deeply moved by their plight. Yet they were so prevalent that most people made an almost subconscious decision to simply look the other way-to, basically, ignore them. And so we swept past them every day, great waves of us going on with our lives and accepting that there is nothing that we could really do.”
Here he was on the street just another dirty kid in tattered clothes begging for money. She walked by and then about twenty steps later she turned around. She couldn’t pinpoint why she chose to turn around but she did. She approached Maurice “Can I have some change”? he asked. She said “I have no money to give you, but I’d love it if you joined me for dinner at McDonald’s”. This small act of kindness changed two lives in one day and neither of them knew that bonding over a Big Mac would change the course of both of their lives.
He never really told Laura just how rough his life was and through the course of this book you see into the life of this weary young boy who turned into a strong man all because of the unconditional love and action that Laura showed to Maurice. An invisible thread tethered them throughout their lives and they were destined to change one another through the power of love.
“Maurice looked at me and asked me a question. “If you make me a lunch, will you put it in a brown paper bag?” I asked him “Do you want it in a brown paper bag?” He replied “Miss Laura, I don’t want your money. I want my lunch in a brown paper bag.” I said sure and inquired why he wanted it in a brown bag. “Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, it means that someone cares about them. Miss Laura can I please have a paper bag.”
Laura writes her story with confidence and grace. She elqulently describes the horror that she faced every day growing up. She isn’t merely a rich white lady trying to make herself feel better. She is a real person who overcame her own set of difficult circumstances. With the ups and downs of this unlikely friendship she writes the raw emotion and it is felt in the pages of this book. Skillfully she weaves her life along with his and you see that they needed one another. She didn’t look at this kid as a project or a life to change because of her money. She joined Maurice in friendship that was honest. The climax of their story made me set the book down and walk away because I could feel the agony of the hurt that she was feeling. A book this beautiful needs to be shared.
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. I think that we live in a society that looks at the huge issues like homelessness, hunger, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and we think it’s too big of a problem for one person to conquer and one person can’t effect change. However, if you can change one life by being a friend, you change the pattern of someone’s life, which changes the future, which slowly changes the world. You get to decide if you have time to be the change that you want to see in this world. I want to see change so I am taking action. I appreciate the inspiration in this book and I hope you do too.
“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.” – A Chinese Proverb