A House in the Sky cover

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.

Related posts: ‘the world sends us garbage, we send back music.’
inner resources (via Eloise)
haiti: when there is nothing, there is something
reality check: somalia (and how to help)

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3 replies on “2 powerful practices for when times get really rough

  1. I read the longer article about this book…what happened to her was atrocious…but I also was amazed at her western hubris in going there and the number of local people there who were endangered, injured and perhaps even killed in order to help her have, and then escape from, her attempt to have an experience.

  2. I read that article too and wonder at the people who tried to help her. I can’t help but agree that it was folly for her to go there. But I also remember my own young self traveling through South America in the 70’s, through what were basically police states, where people disappeared, all evidence of them having been there expunged. I thought I was invincable, and realize now, decades later, that I could easily have not returned from that trip.

  3. Wow. This is really beautiful and troubling at the same time. And also, what a great book cover!

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