They are the people who keep things going
By Michael O'Hare
Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
My granddaughter Peyton turned 10 this week, the third born in a line of four granddaughters.
All children are unique and last weekend I had the opportunity to sit and study “Pete” during a light-hearted family conversation at our son Ryan's home.
Peyton is the one about whom I say: “She has been here before.”
She looks, as she listens to others speak, to be wise beyond her years. It is in her eyes.
If we believe live is a mystery, then Peyton seems to have it figured out. Yep, even at 11.
And as proof of her wisdom: She doesn't try to explain it all to the rest of us.
All this is by way of meandering to my topic for today: Invisible people. It is a topic that I am sure Peyton will understand someday (if not already).
Sometimes “invisible people” conjures up a negative imagine. Peter, Paul and Mary sang of invisible people as the native Americans overrun by the settlers. Others may think the description refers to the homeless, those who dot our city landscapes, folks we just pass by as if they weren't there.
These are not the invisible people to whom I refer.
My view is a more positive one. It is all those who live their daily lives out of the view of the public eye.
They don't appear on TV, they don't seek fame, nor do they want it. They are content or nearly content to live out their lives with as much success and joy and lack of pain as both effort and circumstance will allow — and to do so in relative obscurity.
They aren't particularly interested in the famous anymore than the famous are interested in them.
I catch glimpses of these invisible people in lots of places: in a park, crossing the street, in an auditorium. They are just about everywhere if you look.
These folks aren't posting on Facebook, nor hoping to get their cutest photos on the Internet and subsequently land an interview on the Today Show.
Yet they have marvelous stories to tell that would derive from their living.
I think Peyton – if she is fortunate enough not to have her heart and head turned by life – will always be able to see these people. She has an appreciation of beauty in what others may see as mundane — or not even see at all.
It is hard in our culture to say anything to a child that might dissuade he or see from seeking a share of the limelight known as fame and fortune.
We are a nation of go-getters. Reach for the golden ring is the message that seems omnipresent.
Yet life has more inherent value than that golden ring (however you may perceive it), and I think some of us are quietly smiling because we know that fact and we sit back to watch the passing parade. We aren't being lazy, not uninspired; we are just artfully aware.
I like movies that explore the kind of people I am talking about. “A Love Song for Bobby Long” is one such film. In fact the narrator at the end says of the lead character. Long: “It was the invisible people he wanted to live with. The ones that we walk past every day. The ones we sometimes become.”
Another film I watched recently on TV touches on these folks.
“Man in the Chair” showcases an elderly group of former Hollywood film crew workers led by an ex-gaffer played by Christopher Plummer.
Here we see people for whom fame means little, but work and expressing oneself through talent is all in life.
In truth there are no really invisible people, there are only people who go unnoticed by the rest of us in our star-struck culture.
I would rather have a conversation with any of these folks than learn more about the myriad peccadilloes of the rich and famous in Hollywood or the halls of government.
I hate to say this, but I hope none of my children or grandchildren ever seek fame. I hope they seek to be invisible people who someday are found to simply be loving people by those who know them, whether that circle is small or large.
In truth (my opinion), it is the invisible people who are really holding our lives on this planet together. They get things done and make sense of things while stars just float about looking bright.
The thing that maintains invisibility is an ability to be able to watch without needing to be watched. My Peyton already has a pretty good handle on that.
Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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