Monday, June 05, 2006

Dispatches from the Edge

Could not put it down.

Anderson Cooper’s new (and first) book, Dispatches from the Edge, is riveting reading for anyone wanting to find some meaning in the many recent disasters our world has faced. From war to famine to tsunami to hurricane, Cooper was on the scene, not only reporting for us but coming to terms with his own demons.

Some excerpts that resonated with me:

As a boy looking at [the] globe, I grew up believing, as most people do, that the earth is round. … But in truth, the world is constantly shifting: shape and size, location in space. It’s got edges and chasms, too many to count. They open up , close, reappear somewhere else. … The world has many edges, and it’s very easy to fall off.

I feel like I’m “on the edge” or “on edge” all the time. Cooper’s words made me realize a lot of us feel that way. And I became filled with that compassion I wrote about a few days ago. Just compassion for each of us, facing every day the things that trouble us, continuing to face them and move forward. That sensation of having to keep moving, again something I happened to write about last week, is elaborated in Cooper’s empathy with sharks.

The week after my father died, I saw one of those old Jacques Cousteau documentaries. It was about sharks. I learned that they have to keep moving in order to live. It’s the only way they can breathe. Forward motion, constantly forcing water through their gills. … Hurtling across oceans, from one conflict to the next, one disaster to another, I sometimes believe it’s motion that keeps me alive as well. … You run toward what everyone else is running from, believing your camera will somehow protect you, not really caring if it doesn’t. All you want to do is get it, feel it, be in it. … Keep moving, keep cool, stay alive, force air through your lungs, oxygen into your blood. Keep moving. Keep cool. Stay alive.

I can just feel that energy flowing through him. It’s an energy that fuels my own work as well. How is it I can keep moving some days? When things look black and I’m tempted not to care. I keep moving, I believe, through Spirit. Reading his book is making me think of Spirit as a shark. This is a new image for me, that of tireless roving, always there, always on its way, near at hand. Not as a sinister presence, but as an indefatigable friend, swimming right along beside me. Invincible. Strange, but somehow apropos.

And then something Anderson Cooper wrote made me laugh because I’ve also written about what he mentions recently. He’s on a helicopter in Iraq, with the Ambassador J. Paul Bremer, who is not talking to him. Not much is being accomplished by Bremer and his team diplomatically, and of course the situation in Iraq is a mess.

There were three Blackwater gunmen seated around us, and perhaps a dozen more in the choppers that followed. The guard next to me had a Maori tattoo on his arm and was reading a well-worn paperback. At first I couldn’t see what it was, but as he turned a page, I caught a glimpse of the title: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The book is a fast read, taut, written in short bursts and vignettes. Check it out the next time you’re in a bookstore, it’s on the bestseller rack.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 6/05/2006 11:50:00 PM, Anonymous rev. veronika said...

What about inner stillness?

At 6/06/2006 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I guess I don't think it's a choice between one or the other. Inner stillness to me doesn't mean standing still. There's still activity and motion and accomplishment.


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