This past weekend I was visited by three spirits. I don't consider myself an Ebenezer Scrooge, or at least not the Scrooge we meet at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, and my three spirits weren't ghosts. They are very much alive, and their aliveness is a part of why they spoke to me.
Mr. Wouk is a gifted storyteller who held me enthralled through City Boy, The Caine Mutiny, and Youngblood Hawke. However, it was when I read Winds of War and War and Remembrance that I was lost in wonder, and at times horror, at the worlds he created. The two books cover the lead up to WWII and the entire war, and until I read those books, I didn't grasp what the words "World War" meant. He wrote from a wide and deep perspective, and every time I re-read those books I am awed by their vast scope and their intimacy.
A friend (with whom I shared the books) and I were talking at a crowded dinner table one night, discussing the characters in the books and what was happening with them. Another friend, overhearing, interrupted and said, "Who are these people? Your family?" We burst out laughing and explained, and later agreed that our engagement with the characters was unusual, and the author deserved a lot of credit for that.
I watched Mr. Wouk in an interview in July 2017 with CBS Sunday Morning, and noticed that even at 102, there was a twinkle in his eye, and an irrepressible energy that made me smile. He was one of the most alive human beings on the planet, and his work has been an enormous part of my love of story.
It is a time of transition for Helio, and for me. He is moving from 20 years with Team Penske in Indy Car to the Penske Sports Car program. While it seems clear he'd like to have stayed in the Indy Car program, he gracefully acceded to Roger Penske's request that he move to the other program. And in his first race, he won the pole (meaning they start first) for his three-man team, and the team had a podium finish, coming in third overall.
I've written of my own transition, of moving across the country, leaving my life in California to return to a new life in Pennsylvania. If I can handle my transition with a fraction of Helio's grace, I will be doing well.
While I can't say I see myself as Wonder Woman, one of the great gifts in life is not necessarily to have the life you think you should. As Emilio Estevez's character says in his film The Way, "You don't choose a life, you live it."
My three spirits have all shared something about how they've lived their lives with me, and now I share it with you. Like all of us, they have each had their griefs, their losses, and their heartbreaks. And still, the joyful glint is there in their eyes, in their being. May we all live our lives with that joyful glint, and share it with the world. The world could use a little joy.
Carol (Doc) Dougherty
An avid reader, writer, and student, with a penchant for horse racing, Shakespeare, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wake Up and Write Writer's Retreat Workshop