Just Read The Damn Book

Book JacketNearing the end of July I saw the movie The Diving Bell And The Butterfly and subsequently wrote a piece entitled Let Your Imagination Set You Free. Since then I’ve had an opportunity to read the book, by the same name, which set this all adrift. Not to mention my interest in what he so valiantly accomplished. The authoring of some memoirs.

I seem to recall hearing a few professionals, at a rehabilitation hospital I was admitted to in March of ’97, recommend my family read a book written by a bloke who suffered from an affliction painstakingly “similar” to mine. The “affliction” being, as I’ve mentioned previously, “Locked-in Syndrome.” And “the bloke” being, I assume, Jean-Dominique Bauby. As it turns out Bauby’s book was originally published the very same week I finally began my climb out of my body. Weird.

Anyway this is a quick read. One I suggest people read in “collaboration” with the movie. The nature of both medium’s provide an important context into each other. I guess having “lived it” provides me a perspective I felt the book didn’t provide. No cut on him. And seeing it on screen I was better able to grasp what he experienced. The movie allows a person to witness difficulties he faced, the most prevalent being writing. Whereas the book, just as relevantly, tells that same person what he thought and felt.

It’s really a great story. Take my word for it…

 I read the book in two stages. Basically in two halves. And I got two different impressions from the same book…

In all honesty the first half was a little disappointing for me, in the sense I felt he put too much emphasis on his “current” situation and his life in the past. He was very harsh on his new existence. Being fair I can’t say as I blame him. Don’t forget, I’m looking at him as a person who has faced an all too familiar struggle, but I also have access to over 10 years of rehab, healing and learning that he never had. There most certainly is a difference. And a rather gaping one. 

And I totally understand his reasons for being so hard on his situation. No-one gets it more than I do. Believe me. But, at the same time, I instantly learned lessons and began to change my thinking about life based on my “metamorphosis.” I suppose an instant appreciation was gained for everything I’d lost, rather obviously, like him, but I couldn’t help but draw what would become very important connections between myself, my situation and what it really feels like to be trapped with absolutely no control. Rather ironically, not unlike what I imagined the lives of veal calves to be. Little did I know, but would eventually learn, the travesties of reality within the food production industry. Long story short, I became a vegan.

But the second half left me inspired. The tone of his writing didn’t change, I guess my appreciation of his effort did. I can’t quite put into words exactly what I was left upon finishing. It was a lot more emotional than I was expecting. And because of that it’s a little more than I’m prepared to explore at this time. 

But, please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to make it appear as if he gave up on life after his stroke. It’s not like the time he had left in the year and a bit following was spent wallowing in pity. Far from it. He “wrote” this fucking book! By blinking each and every word, one letter at a time, a thousand times over. Truly remarkable. And so utterly inspiring.

Just read the damn book…