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Ennio’s Story: Why We Cannot Make Excuses for not Trying to Be Better

January 20, 2011

I’m having a hard time giving letter 10 to the person it is addressed to, and since I only want to write the blog post after I’ve done it, I’m going to publish a short story today instead.

Sometimes you know or meet someone whose story gives you hope in the ability of men to do good things even in adverse circumstances. Ennio’s story is just that, which is why I wanted to share it with you.

Ennio is my brother’s best friend (so much so that his girlfriend says that if he leaves her it will be to marry Ennio), so I’ve known him long enough to tell his story. His life started out pretty normally, in a small village of the French Alps with his brother and parents. Then his mother left them and they’ve never heard of her since. We all have different relationships with our parents but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty rough for a kid to be abandoned by his mom.

Ennio and my brother, “Ain’t no mountain high enough”

With his mom gone, Ennio’s trials started. His father was either working or out drinking, so Ennio and his brother went through primary school mostly without support. Then his father remarried and went away for months at a time, leaving the two brothers alone through crucial periods of middle school. At this age I could only make yogurt cake so cooking must have taken a bit of motivation from them.

I know this starts to look like a Charles Dickens story even more because Ennio also had to work since he was 11. But working is actually what really helped him. His boss, Boileau, was not always easy on him but that’s how he made his apprenticeship and learned a job. That’s also how he paid for school, because at 16 he had to move out of his father’s house. Now he and his former boss are really good friends and he is forever grateful that he helped him when times were rough.

There are several very humbling aspects in Ennio’s story. First, as Randy Pausch said: “You cannot change the hands you are dealt, just how you play the hands”. I have seen many cases of children growing up in unfavorable environments and who became either violent or depressed. Ennio instead is one of the cases of such a kid showing resilience and hanging on to the right people to help him (teachers, Boileau, etc.), because the people you spend the most time with influence you a lot. It also shows that this kid is really good at heart, never complaining about his situation or chaotic way to adulthood, but instead enjoying his situation as it is and making the best effort to create himself a better future.

The view from the top of a mountain is even better
when you’ve suffered to get there

Another nice element of this story is that even though he could have just dropped out of school and got a job, Ennio still worked part time to pay for school with his own money, because he saw education as a way to improve his condition. I have complained many times about a class being too hard and homework being unpleasant, perhaps I should have looked to people like him, who know education is a privilege we’re getting.

Finally, Ennio could have been in my letters too. A couple of summers ago Ennio and my brother wanted to go on vacation in Southern France. I was the only one with a driver’s licence, so they invited both my girlfriend and me to spend the holidays with them. I didn’t think that they were both paying for the apartment we occupied. They never mentioned once that they had just treated us to a free vacation, I found that because our mom told me. I felt a bit bad for never thanking them properly, while they were very thankful for me driving them. So the next time I see Ennio, I’ll definitely do something nice for him.

How about you, do you have people like that in your life, who overcame several hardships and now seem to do fine? Please share those stories, they can only inspire us!

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3 Comments
  1. Thanks for the smile, and the inspiration!

  2. It is a gift to meet Ennio 🙂

  3. I am really glad you guys liked this story, I was wondering if people other than me would be touched even though he’s a stranger.

    Thanks!

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