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Monday, March 8, 2010

Ghost Rider

I really like to read....a good time for me is having a spare hour to fold into a good book and let it take me away. I read non-fiction for the most part, history, biography, memoir...I enjoy all of it. Though I couldn't begin to recall how many books I have read to date or create a top ten list, there are a few that do stand out.

One book in particular has had a rather profound effect on me, especially considering this starting my life over again bit I wrote about in my last blog. Interestingly enough the book was written about 10 years ago by the drummer of the rock band, Rush...Neil Peart. It's called "Ghost Rider: Adventures on the Healing Road".

Around 1997-98 Neil lost his 19 year old daughter Serena in an auto accident as she was returning to college in Toronto from their home in Quebec. Within a year, his wife was diagnosed with and died of cancer but he is convinced that in reality, she died of a broken heart.It is a harrowing tale of the horror of losing most everyone you care about in the blink of an eye. Basically he emotionally shuts down.

For the better part of the next two years, he rode his BMW1150 motorcycle all over North, Central and South America by himself. It was his way to try and work through the devastation of his now crumbled world. He kept a journal and wrote long, expressive letters to his best friend who happened to be in an American jail for trying to bring pot over the border into Canada. These writings form the basis for this book.

I first read this book when it first came out and was quite moved by it. But it wasn't until I read it a second time in 2006 that it had a profound affect on me that continues to this day.

See I had just gotten the previous couple of years my life had crumbled as well: my wife divorced me, I was incapable of working, I had destroyed most if not all of the relationships that had been meaningful to me and in the end I had tried to take my own life. Even in that I had failed....

That was the turning point for me, at that moment I became determined to live again. That was about the time I re-read Ghost Rider. Though the specifics of our stories were quite different, Neil lost the two people who he loved the most through no fault of his own and my alcoholism/addiction destroyed everything I had come to care about or love. Still, I could totally relate to the devastating feelings of loss and loneliness he expressed in that book. The loss of faith in all that was good, the questions that eat at one's soul that can never truly be answered in this lifetime. One must just decide to push on, in my case just for the sake of pushing on.

He endured it, survived it,learned from it and came to live and to love again because of it. His story gave me hope that I too could escape this terrible darkness that had descended down on me and my life. If the Ghost Rider could find a way to live again, then hell I could too.

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