Books as lives (DOG EAR)

Books as lives (DOG EAR)

unny think about work – my team has shifted from being a collection of Indian moms to being a team of millennial boys. And with that comes all sorts of problems. Normally I’d not concern myself with the tribulations of the trophy crowd but I’m a scrummaster – I have to run a team. And I’ve got one little tyke who is particularly troublesome.

You’ll remember from an earlier Dog Ear how I mentioned pulling one of my dad’s old sea stories from his shelf while stuck in a family event with nobody to talk to? Well, I was just getting into the story – the young lieutenant comes aboard a ship and finds morale in the scuppers. Men will only do what is in their direct area of responsibility and they do it sullenly. And this lieutenant thinks that there is always one guy, one little hardcore, who brings morale down. And I’m reading this, nodding, thinking, “True, that.”

And that’s the thing about books. Even in our darkest times, when we are grieving a loss or feeling lonely and depressed, we can find someone sharing our same troubles, who we can identify with and smile when they overcome their adversities. Sure, we usually can’t win against our world, but they can and we can feel good about their success. In my case, I was told that this twirp had gotten “managerial counselling” and would be on “a year-long improvement program”. In my day, it would be called “a warning letter in your file and termination to follow”. And in the 1790s, our lieutenant just told the guy that sure, raising masts might not be in this guy’s “domain” but the heads were, so he could scrub them out until they shined (and it’s hard to make oak shine). So in my real life, I’m listening to “corrective plans” with complete disinterest, but sitting before my open book I’m smiling.

Another book I found a connection to, my recent enjoyment of A Man Called Ove. Yes, I’m cranky, and yes, my life is to be lived lived my way, according to the world I came up in and not the way of coddling and delays and empty promises. And with Ove, I could identify, even when he truly was an asshole.

Thinking back, I always liked Goshawk Squadron, and the in-for-the-kill squadron CO who has to teach his version of millennials (the 1900s variants, I suppose) how to be killers in order to survive. But I can’t put the squadron in the air and dump tin cans for them to weave about and shoot at while avoiding each other. I have to hope for a year-long improvement program.

Oh well. The characters in the novels I read have interesting lives that generally meet with success (unless you are a downer like Ensign Flandry, just holding off the “long night”). But then again, my characters get shot, lose family, undergo hardship, get shipped off to death camps and even see their homeworlds destroyed. So maybe I’ll stick with my comfortable reading chair and let them dodge Zulu spears.