Monday, March 5, 2012

as they say

no matter how bad things can become,
how they might go off the rails, you
just have to remind yourself that
worse things happen at sea...

I have just finished reading "Worse Things Happen at Sea" by William McInnes and Sarah Watt. It was a beautiful book - about the simple things in life... and some of the complicated things too. 

I don't know what it is that attracts me to autobiographies and memoirs - I think it's something to do with seeing how other people deal with the difficulties in their lives; usually it is those who attack their problems with humor, grace and a touch of fight, that I really enjoy and applaud. Perhaps this is because I hope to approach my 'rainy days' with similar tact.  I like reading about their experiences, because even when these people are obviously so far removed from my reality - the common threads of human experience are still identifiable within their stories.

In reading this story of love, family and heartache - at times, it was hard to imagine any truth in the title. Could worse things really happen? I was heartbroken when Sarah wrote about the baby they lost during childbirth; and again as William spoke of scattering the babys ashes in the sea. The passing of their pet dog, and Sarah's illness were also emotional. Filled to the brim with memories and truth, the stories of these two remarkable writers were challenging - as they examined the blessings and discomforts in their lives, so too, did I.

I think what made reading this book a finer, but more difficult experience, was knowing that since the book was finished, Sarah had lost her fight with cancer.  The greatest tragedy to me, seems to be that these two people are no longer together. But I do believe Sarah Watt made quite a dent in her life. I think, after all, her 'dam' overflowed with all the good things - love, inspiration, laughter and some tears.

"I began to count what I had. Not my blessings, just what I had: a car, a healthy child, a lovely man, enough money to pay the mortgage, not enough to cause worry, Australian citizenship, ten pairs of shoes.  A pathetic amount in some eyes, absurdly wasteful in others.... I had taught myself to do this.  I was trying to make myself a positive person.  I wanted the glass half-full, no matter how much unfairness in the world, how many starving people, global catastrophes or prophecies of doom.. I wanted to hear the voice of promise and hope and optimism. I wanted to not just know that birth and death are inevitable, but to believe it, to allow for it, to be at peace with it..." (Sarah)

"What can I say? Life is a smorgasbord, so many dishes to choose from and sometimes you just choose the wrong one, but you know nothings ever wasted.." (William)

"Life is indeed a smorgasbord with so much to offer.  We'll all have our time in the sun.  Fashions fade and so does a life, but friendship, between old friends and new, is a tacit agreement between us that we don't have to fade alone.." (William)

"How do you measure a 'fair share' of time? By quantity or quality? Mine has been of excellent quality.  I've had a great time.  I didn't spend twenty-five years in a job I hate, resenting it but needing it.  I've never been confined to a wheelchair.  I'm not deaf or blind...I'm not a tragedy.  I can't complain.  I've had it good.  The best thing I can do is balance the good luck with the bad and go with good grace or, in the current parlance of my children, suck it up and get on with what I have to do with what I've got.  And I have a lot...Like my dad's job and personality I seem to have been a dam builder.  I am full of all that I have collected, done, loved and regretted.  It is a large dam." (Sarah)

"Why do we search for and expect happiness all the time, like some dumb weekend magazine article? Or even contentment.  Sometimes rage is good.  There are things to be enraged about in this world.  There are tears that should fall." (Sarah)


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