Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shackleton on Sleep

I want to put together a nice little post on two of the books I've read recently. But, it's late (again) and my thoughts aren't lining themselves up nicely for a little post.

I've read Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (Jennifer Armstrong) and Shackleton's Stowaway and am reading Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (Alfred Lansing). We realized that O had these three books on Shackleton in his library. He read them all (probably more than once and maybe even all in the same day- ha!). I figured I ought to read at least one to know what he was reading about.

I didn't know much- if anything- about Shackleton and his voyage on Endurance. Once I started reading, however, I found the story fascinating, horrible, hopeful and captivating. Imagine spending 18 months or so in Antarctica in the freezing cold. Some of that was time spent stranded on board their ice-locked ship, Endurance. Some was spent on an ice flow (that was moving and melting). Some was spent in the Southern Ocean- just read about that and you'll be shocked.

This is a terrific tale of survival and leadership and Providence, told in several different voices, which all enhance the story. I particularly liked the book by Armstrong. She notes that when Shackleton and two of his crew were hiking over the mountains of South Georgia Island, they all felt that there were four in their party, and not just three. It gives me good chills. Their survival is so unbelievable that they must have had the Lord's protection and care.

Still, with all this reading there are only a few things that stand out to me (at this hour, anyway). Shackleton was a great leader. Could I emulate him at the helm of our little ship? Inspiring confidence and bringing out the best in our crew? Also, a quote on sleep keeps playing in my head. I have been sleepy lately. M didn't sleep so well when we got back from Florida. And life feels hard and our bed feels soft in the early morning dark and chill. Sleep does sometimes seem like the best thing.

Long after their rescue, Shackleton said, "It was like this. . . You can get so tired in the snow, particularly if you are hungry, that sleep seems just the best thing life has to give. . . But if you're a leader, a fellow that other fellows look to, you've got to keep going." (Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, pg. 116)

He kept going. Isn't that the only thing to do?

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