Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Could Have Sharks Launching Themselves at You

We all are prone to self-pity at times. Take my eleven-year-old, for instance, who was upstairs the other morning shedding copious tears (accompanied by dramatic sobbing) because she had chosen to do her Kumon packet before school and didn't think she'd finish before the bus came. Meanwhile, her deeply sympathetic mother went into the kitchen and nuked her oatmeal, taking care to stand very close to the microwave, not just to fry her inner organs but also to drown out the performance.

Who's got time to pity someone else, when there's so much pitying that must be done of oneself? It's Thursday, the Mia and the Magic Cupcakes bookstore event is Saturday, so I've been occasionally going down the what-if-no-one-shows-up-and-University-Book-Store-decides-I'm-such-a-loser-they-never-want-me-back road, but I haven't even been able to give that self-pity-party my undivided attention because the very Saturday after that potential Humiliation Fest is the Seattle University Book Festival, where I'm slated to speak in a break-out session after everyone who came to hear Anne LaMott has already gone on home. Plus they've put me opposite Lyanda Haupt, whose book Crow Planet I've actually heard of and read! Waa waaa waaaaaah.

Wait--before you close this window in disgust, I wanted to say that I've found the cure to self-pity. At least temporarily. It's found in Laura (Seabiscuit) Hillenbrand's new book Unbroken. I'm halfway through this amazing survivor story, and our hero Louie Zamperini is floating on a half-deflated raft in the Pacific with two other survivors, dying of starvation and thirst, and having to beat off flying sharks with oars. Now, Google all you like, and you will see there's no such thing as a flying shark. But these darned creatures, after circling their raft for weeks, have finally grown impatient and are hurling themselves out of the water, onto the raft, wide-open jaws first!(!!!!!) Could it honestly get any worse? The amazing thing is, it does.

Anyhow, "You could have sharks launching themselves at you," is a useful mantra to combat self-pity. Not to mention a handy way of refusing invitations to other people's pity parties. I used it on my husband last night. And, sure enough, he agreed that what Louie went through was definitely worse. (To make up for my lack of co-suffering, I did relate some of the amazing twists and turns in the book which would make excellent sermon fodder and which you might hear from the pulpit in coming months.) Take my word for it. Try it out on yourself or loved ones this week. And in the meantime, READ THIS BOOK!

***University Book Store, Saturday, January 29, at 11:00 a.m.***
***Seattle University Book Festival, Saturday, February 5, at 2:15 p.m.***


  1. I am reading the book, and cannot put it down! That wouldn't be so bad if we weren't hosting our Bible Study group tonight, and our house is a disaster area of unmitigated proportions, AND I have a water aerobics class in an hour. SO the book is put down, and I'm ready to face the day--it's now 11AM--good grief. The good news is that Charlie and I will be among your friends and admirers on Saturday---can't wait--especially after Sunday's sermon and Margo's husband's fabulous and funny testimony. AND I see that Kris Bennett is headed South and might be bringing back a little girl, too!! Ellie

  2. Read the book and it gets more amazing and is amazing all of the way to the last page. Plenty of sermon material there! I wish I could say that it ended my pity parties, but am having a little one today. Thanks for reminding me of Louie as it puts the ending time of this party at 12:09.