I seem to be drawn to these kind of books right now. The kind that, perhaps, give you some kind of insight into life, and how to deal with hardship. The author, Parisian Jean-Dominique Bauby, has certainly experienced one of the most awful kinds of torture you could ever imagine, yet he manages to retain a sense of humour and perspective, that you simply have to admire.
He had a stroke at the age of 42, leaving him paralysed and only able to move one eyelid. Hospitalised in the Naval Hospital at Berck-sur-Mer, he lay there as a nurse read out the French alphabet in order of frequency, blinking when she reached the letter he wanted to use. And he wrote the whole freakin’ book that way.
The story he tells is like a collection of short stories. Snippets of thoughts from a man locked inside himself. And what he writes, is unbelievably compelling.
He talks of traveling in his mind, of tasting foods he can’t eat anymore. His memories take him all over the world, all throughout his life, and then, heart breakingly, he talks of not being able to hold his children anymore, and he laments his missed opportunities. It sounds kind of depressing, buy it’s actually not. It has a few sad, and poignant moments, yes, but the overall feeling having read the whole book, was that of respect for the man.
I found it impossible not to put myself in the same position, wondering how I would cope in those circumstances. I’m not sure I could keep the matter of fact, and sometimes almost cheery disposition that he does. And I tell you what, it’s an amazing book, and well worth a read. Whatever you think of what he wrote, you can’t fail to be impressed by the effort required to actually bring it into being.
Have a go. Read it. You wont regret it and you might even gain a little bit of clarity – for a little while at least. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all.