Life above the common.
I really like that phrase. I stole it from Larry Ellis. It’s the theme of his novel-in-progress about Rachel, a young woman, who, upon the death of her husband, faces a choice. She can either take her life insurance proceeds and live the good life sipping margaritas on the beach, or do something far more risky in the hope of building a life with meaning and purpose, one whose legacy will endure long after she is gone. For Rachel, there is no choice.
She’ll buy the house – the house that once was a symbol of everything that was right and good about her town – and sink her savings into its restoration. Not for her own vain pleasure, and not for the sake of an unrealistic nostalgic vision, but for the people of Walhonde, who may see in its restoration as a home, who may see in its revitalization as a community cornerstone, a shining example of what can be achieved when the choice is made to live life above the common.
It’s not the easy choice. It’s the idea reflected in the West Point Cadet Prayer.
“Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.”
Larry’s novel is inspired by the real-life Mohler House, located in our small town of St. Albans, West Virginia. In the novel, the name of the town is changed to Walhonde. Though a tale of fiction, Larry weaves historical facts about the house into the narrative which occurs in the present, but is supported by the legacy of the men and women who shaped the town – and the world – in the early 1900s. You can read excerpts here.