Friday, January 11, 2008

Of Endings And Beginnings

They prayed, and some clutched their arm rests so hard they were bent 60 degrees.

They thought it was the end.

The plane had 88 people on board en route from Victoria to Toronto. When they got in trouble, the pilots made an emergency landing in Calgary yesterday morning.

Nisha Gill believed she was looking at her two-year-old daughter for the last time during 15 seconds of terror Thursday morning as Air Canada Flight 190 plunged through the skies… shaken passengers spoke of how the jet plunged thousands of metres and then rolled sharply to the left and right - violently pitching people, dishes and drink carts about the cabin.

Tears running down his face and a fistful of red roses clutched in his hand, Geoff Norris of Toronto waited anxiously for his wife Anne to arrive at Pearson on Thursday night. He said his wife told him on the phone earlier from Calgary she was bruised, but not too badly, "but psychologically, very badly," after the harrowing flight.

We probably all know the saying, that when a horse bucks you off the thing to do is to get right back on, but I can imagine how terrified these people must have been as they prepared to deal with boarding another flight to make it to their final destination after their ordeal.

I’ve had a few of those moments, in the physical sense, myself. One was when I almost drowned, camping at Arrowhead, playing at the falls.

Swept into the falls.

I was ten. I still don’t swim alone.

Then, the car accident in Tunisia. Going up a sand dune – not part of the itinerary – with a couple in their 70s in front of us, us on a jump seat with no seat belts…

And feeling air as the ground went out from beneath us after we crested the top of the dune.

The impact of the nose against the dirt. You think sand is soft. Hard-packed sand, making it feel as though we’d hit rock.

And the dirt flying up around us, so it seemed as though we’d been sucked into a hole for a moment. The manual check, “Are you okay? Are you okay?” Reaching to help that elderly couple back into their seats.

Turning to see Kevin wasn’t breathing. I’ll admit, over the years there were a few moments I would have gladly throttled him, but that wasn’t one of them. I was hysterical.

But I’ve had to get into a lot of vehicles since. I had to get back in that vehicle that same day.

I suppose that’s the difference. Some things are optional. Others aren’t. I can selectively swim, but I need to be able to ride in cars.

So I had to face my fears.

This goes over to yesterday’s post. It may have been a bit sad, taken from a certain point of view, but really, it’s more about how I’ve felt rather than how I feel - at least where relationships are concerned.

The process of sending out the new book and waiting for feedback is nerve-wracking. There’s no two ways about it. This year is more crucial than ever before, with two books coming out, in close proximity.

And the opinions of those I respect really matter to me. I had to be selective with the double ARCs, and they have gone mostly to those interviewing or reviewing me, but also in a few cases to those I admire.

I’ll admit it – I’m a basket case. I think it’s true of all of us, just in different ways.

But when it comes to love and how I’m feeling, these days the word would be euphoric.

I didn’t mean for anyone to be worried about me, thinking that’s how I was doing now, in terms of my personal life. Yes, I’m getting a divorce.

Kevin and I are still friends, he’s still welcome to comment on my blog.

In working through everything and facing my fears, I ended up being blessed. I’ve mentioned the ‘b’ word a few times here already. There’s someone in my life. Exactly when I make who it is public is up to him at this point – not everyone wants to read about their life on a blog.

But in the same way that I’ve gone through the heartache and come through on the other side happier than ever, I hope people love the new books. So far, I’ve heard back from a few reviewers, and the response has been glowing.

Does it make me any less nervous about the next opinion?


The review that stays with you is always the most critical. A hundred can love you and the one hates you, and that’s the one you remember. Emotions overriding logic.

It’s one of those moments, when you’re facing the reality of getting back on the horse that bucked you off. You know, sooner or later, a bad review is coming. The only question is whether you treat it like a plane, take the option and get a bus ticket instead, or whether you treat it like a car and know you have to get over it and get back in the vehicle.

Although I have to admit, if I went through a flight like that, I’d be nervous too. I just happen to have flown numerous times, and know that 99% of the time, it’s great. The best flying moment I ever had was sitting in an ultralight, high over the lakes in Muskoka, suspended in air, gliding through the skies. You’re completely exposed, and if you crash you’re under no illusions about the outcome, because there’s nothing to protect you. But knowing the engine and wings are carrying you and trusting in that enables you to forget the fear and just revel in the experience.

I have a lot of friends who are somewhere on this journey, in the relationship department. My wish for all of them is that they reach the point where they’re as happy as I am now.


Josephine Damian said...

My God, Sandra! A divorce and a two new books coming out! Talk about stress.

But, hey, don't sweat the reviews. It all comes down to a matter of taste - I've yet to see one book that everyone agreed on - good, or bad.

Did you hear the news about Patry Francis? She has a new book out and was recently diagnosed with cancer.

I wear a cuff bracelet with a saying that I use to remind me of my darkest moment and how I got through it - it helps me keep the ups and down of the writing biz in perspective.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I did hear about Patry, and that was devastating. She's a lovely person.

And there are moments when I feel overwhelmed, for sure, but I'm very very lucky and in the midst of all of this I've found an anchor and that helps me put everything in perspective and focus. Some days are easier than others, but truly (as someone said to me yesterday) what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Vincent said...

I must admit, I wasn't sure what kind of place you found yourself in from some of your recent posts, so I'm heartened to read you're definitively some place happy.

The bit that made me smile though was 'I'll admit - I'm a basket case'. More people should admit that, though I'm not sure if everyone is a basket case - there have to be some dullards out there.

Trace said...

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Boy, can I relate. But it's amazing how adaptable we are. I need to learn to slow my ass down.

I got the books! Thanks! Can't wait to read them :)

Christa M. Miller said...

Sandra, I'm glad you're doing well, all things considered. I'll admit I'm blown away, and a little sad (considering that you guys were married the weekend after we were), but if you're euphoric, then I will be too for you. :)