Different Drummer

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, June 25, 2015

“Perhaps the seeds of redemption lay not just in perseverance, hard work, and rugged individualism. Perhaps they lay in something more fundamental—the simple notion of everyone pitching in and pulling together.” The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.” 
― Daniel James BrownThe Boys in the Boat

May 28th, we gathered at Carolyn's home to discuss The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  Another book that was well-liked by everyone that read it.   We enjoyed the interesting historical background and research that the other conveyed throughout the book, the determination and true-grit that these young men had at a time when our nation was struggling through the depression.

This book is about the University of Washington's eight-oar crew and their quest for an Olympic gold medal in the 1936 Olympics in Germany and winning despite the odds against them.  The crew was made up of mostly poor young men, who were sons of shipyard workers, farmers, loggers.  The story mostly revolves around Joe Rantz, who had a very difficult family life and was left alone while very young to fend for himself.  And while he becomes an excellent rower, he struggles to be accepted and feel an important part of the team as he learns to trust in himself as well as his coaches and team-mates.

“It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them." —George Pocock

Their are beautiful quotes at the beginning of each chapter from a wise shipbuilder, George Pocock, who becomes an integral part of the rowing program in Washington.  George builds the beautiful, light fast boats that become so important to the rowing program, but more than that he knew how to build the boys and the team.  The coaches were also very instrumental in choosing the right young men to make up this team.

This is a beautiful quote from the author as he interviewed the elderly Joe Rantz and his family: 
“It was when he tried to talk about 'the boat' that his words began to falter and tears welled up in his eyes...Finally, watching Joe struggle for composure over and over, I realized that 'the boat' was something more than just the shell or its crew. To Joe, it encompassed but transcended both - it was something mysterious and almost beyond definition. It was a shared experience - a singular thing that had unfolded in a golden sliver of time long gone, when nine good-hearted young men strove together, pulled together as one, gave everything they had for one another, bound together forever by pride and respect and love. Joe was crying, at least in part, for the loss of that vanished moment but much more, I think, for the sheer beauty of it.” 
― Daniel James BrownThe Boys in the Boat

This book, while not a page-turner, was highly recommended by all and one that we learned so much from reading.

“If love is the greatest gift of all-and I believe it is- then the greatest privilege of all is to be able to love someone.” An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff

“We all want relationships that are healthy and resolved, and sometimes that simply doesn't happen. But the beauty of life is that inside these disappointments are hidden the most miraculous of blessings. What we lose and what we might have been pales against what we have.” 
Laura Schroff, An Invisible Thread

An Old Ancient Chinese Proverb
In April, we met at Ann's home to discuss An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny byLaura Schroff.  A true story, Laura was a Marketing executive in New York and one day a small boy came up to her on the street and asked her for a handout.  She told him no and walked away, stopped in the middle of the street and went back to find the young boy.  She took him to MacDonalds and had lunch with him.  This was the beginning of a life-long friendship and learning on both sides.

The book was really enjoyed by all the ladies in book club.  We all felt that we learned so much from the book.  It was inspiring, heartfelt and touching.  We discussed the cycle of poverty and drugs, and the deep chasm that alcoholism  creates in families and relationships.

“What does it mean when society says your unfit to be a mother? Are there circumstances to be factored in before that judgement is made? What if a mother is doing the best she can in the face of crushing adversity but still doesn't measure up to society's standards? When does a mother lose her right to be a mother?”  " Laura Schroff, An Invisible Thread

What we also enjoyed about the book was the fact that she didn't hide her mistakes that she made, but helped us to understand and learn from those mistakes as well.  We talked about dreams and hopes that we all have as we grow up and how life brings us challenges and mountains to climb, yet through them all we have the ability to become better people, more compassionate, more understanding and sympathetic, more kind and loving toward all.

“If you make me lunch," he said, "will you put it in a brown paper bag?...Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means that someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?”Laura Schroff, An Invisible Thread