Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

"To live every day as if it has been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to."

Just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and let me just say... wow. It is so beautifully written. And so amazing. Screw Marley and Me, this is a REAL book for dog lovers. Or human lovers. Or just anyone who has ever loved anything.

I won't give too much away but the book essentially follows the life of a young man, a race car driver named Denny, as he falls in love with and marries his soul mate, Eve. Eve grows ill and passes away and he is locked into a painful and difficult custody battle for his daughter with his in-laws. All this is written from the perspective of his dog, who slowly ages and ventures forth into his own death.

The dog's narrative on life, death, pain, sorrow, grief... it is incredible and inspiring. The entire story is woven beautifully around the central theme of continuing the fight. The constant struggle, the pain, the adversity - and that sheer strength of will to keep going, no matter what. To fight and fight and fight, even when you think you have nothing left.

To refuse to give in.

It captured so perfectly how I have felt since Craig's death. The sorrow, the despair, that feeling that there is no hope left.

But you keep fighting and you keep struggling and you keep putting one foot in front of the other. When you think you have nothing left, no strength, not even the thinnest thread of it left, you still manage to find that one last piece to make that one next step. And then the next. And then the next.

And out of nowhere you are rescued by circumstance. People who drop into your life unexpectly, saving you right when you need it. Funds from nowhere when you are down to your last $0.14. Things clicking into place in a way you had not even considered possible.

And slowly that trudge onwards turns into a journey worth walking. Just as the opening quote says, you begin to live your life as though it is stolen from death. As though it is worth living. Because it is. You embrace the joy wherever you can, you refuse to allow your life to be dictated by the pain of grief and the fear of death.

The mantra of this book is that the car goes where the eyes go. And this couldn't be more true.

If you look forward, eyes never straying from where you want to be, rather than where you have been, you will find yourself inevitably moving in that direction.

This is key.

Look forward, focus on where you want to go and how you want to finish. Do not let yourself be distracted by what has happened in your rearview mirror. Be wary of what is going on around you, mindful of the other drivers, but stay focused on the direction you want to travel to.

And slowly, but surely, that is the way you will go.

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