All of us would agree. Life would be much easier if it were linear, an even and orderly blend of experiences gradually unfolding and giving us a feeling of confidence and control. Instead, the unpredictable and unreasonable interrupt what we expect, sometimes destroying what we so carefully mapped out for the future we wanted. That was the beginning of what I said to a fellow worker during a conversation I neither asked for nor expected. I soon tumbled to the fact he’d come to verify what I’d already sensed — an uneasiness, something deeply personal, a troubled state of mind….
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No dad should ever tell his son he’ll “never be worth a damn,” but Mark Laverty’s dad did.
What the dad doesn’t know is that Mark has so firmly coupled his intelligence with curiosity that he knows how he wants to begin his future. Guided by that feeling, he graduates from high school, earns money at a factory job, and buys an old black Cadillac.
With neither plan nor schedule, Mark says goodbye, gets into his trusty car “Mariah,” and begins a journey he hopes will lead him to his ultimate destiny.
After weeks of wandering, meeting interesting people, and encountering unexpected and sometimes harsh realities, he meets Cindy, a waitress at her dad’s cafe in Montana. Although attracted to her, he leaves to continue his travels. Months later, and responding to his original feeling for Cindy, he returns to her, only to become involved in her family’s financial troubles triggered by bad management on the family ranch. His deepening feelings for her are interrupted by his parents’ sudden health problems.
Then comes a phone call that challenges him with a startling life changing event. He’s subjected to severe tests of patience, courage, fairness, and acceptance. Both smoothly and awkwardly, those qualities fuel his rapid rise from young man to young adult.
In the end, Mark is able to live the American dream, his reward for always insisting on doing the right thing.