We were struck by this passage from Eliza Griswold’s New York Times review of A House in the Sky: A Memoir, Amanda Lindhout’s heart-wrenching story of being kidnapped and held for 460 days in Somalia:
To withstand her anguish, she recited a catalog of the small gifts for which she was grateful: “my family at home, the oxygen in my lungs,” the fact that “Jamal set my food down on the floor instead of throwing it at me.” …
Most remarkably, in total darkness, Lindhout transcended her starving, feverish body. She built first stairways, then rooms in the stillness of the air above her. She built, as the title suggests, a “house in the sky,” where “the voices that normally tore through my head expressing fear and wishing for death went silent, until there was only one left speaking.” This voice asks, “In this exact moment, are you O.K.?” She answers, “Yes, right now I am still O.K.”
Lindhout found practices that made her isolation and fear bearable, and that counteracted the literal darkness. She counted the gifts she did have, and found that by being in one moment at a time, she was O.K. What is most remarkable is that she found it is possible to build, out of nothing, a house in the sky.