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.

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