Ghost Rider

Just finished Neal Peart's Ghost Rider, the story of his "healing road" of motorcycle travels after the tragic deaths of his daughter and wife within 10 months of each other. Normally I find travel literature really boring; I'd rather go and explore and get a sense of places first-hand than have context prescribed for me. But Peart uses the travelogue to establish the context for his moods, his thoughts, and in the second half of the book, a series of letters to his friend Brutus (who co-stars in Roadshow: Landscape with Drums, the successor story to Ghost Rider).

Snippets of Rush lyrics (written by Peart) appear at the opening and close of various chapters, and as adjuncts Peart provides along the way. It's eerie to see how some of his attitudes and thinking pre-tragedy shaped his recovery after those events; it's even eerier the Rush CD Roll the Bones deals with death and matters of circumstance, written long before Peart experienced those first-hand. At the close of the book, he describes the process by which he began to pen lyrics again, for the Rush CD Vapor Trails (and it's easy to pick up on the themes that later braced that CD, starting with small personal victories).

I turned the last page of the book last night, and was left with two striking thoughts that paired with a difficult day of work:

1. Tormented by time and space where he was, Peart rode his motorcyle. Fast. Speed and distance (changes in space over time) counted for more than direction. Forward progress.

2. He rediscovered hope by building on the things that gave him joy: first his motorcycle, then nature, then caring about the environment, and eventually meeting his second wife.

I put on Rush's Snakes & Arrows, a CD about hope and faith, in some ways the third part of the Peart mental travelogue, on the way home. It's audio Anne Lamott.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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