Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ghost Rider by Neil Peart Chapter 8 We Are Islands to Each Other

It took the boys and I almost two weeks to get through Chapter 8 of Ghost Rider. Ever since the unfortunate imprisonment of Neil's friend, Brutus, the style of writing changes and becomes informal letter writing. As Neil pens these letters to Brutus, he periodically stops and asks, "Are you with me here? I know you are." The first time I read that out loud, a cold shiver ran up my spine...the boys also stopped looking at their books, because I suppose the way I read it, was more like I was asking them the question.

What does Neil mean by that? I questioned. One boy responded, "Neil carries Brutus with him as if he were really there." Yes, I agreed, maybe Neil needed to feel connected to something because what he once knew was gone...Jackie, Selena, the music...all of it. Only his friendships remained.

In chapter 8, Neil crosses into Mexico and gets all the way down into Belize. I shared with the boys my one and only trip to Belize. I was 18 years old, away at college. A mission group selected me to do puppets, singing and piano at a small church in Lady Ville, Belize. I spent a week there with 11 other college students. Although, the experience occurred many years ago, each face and memory remains vivid and etched deep within my psyche.

There were quite a few metaphorical terms I had to explain such as "phantom pain" and "no room at the inn." Neil describes the melancholy for Selena and Jackie as phantom pain. Missing something that used to be there, feeling their presence, but realizing that they're no longer there. I told the boys of soldiers that would lose a limb, but could still feel pain as if the limb were really there.

The end of chapter 8 had Neil back in Mexico. He left his bike to be repaired, booked a flight and headed back to Canada for the month of December.

The evening plane rises up from the runway

Over constellations of light

I look down into a million houses

And wonder what you're doing tonight

If I could wave my magic wand

I'd make everything all right

Presto, 1990

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