For those of you who don’t know, my brother is a huge Rush fan. It started in the very late ’80s/very early ’90s when he bought Moving Pictures and forced my family to listen to it. Repeatedly. Being young and impetuous (and also very into Garth Brooks), I refused. But as with anything my brother wholly embraces, Rush began to trickle into my life. I’d surprise myself by knowing lyrics. I knew who each band member was and what he played. Little bit by little bit, my brother sucked me into the world of Rush. I didn’t fully appreciate that world until June 1997 when he took AJ and I to Bonner Springs, KS to see Rush at the Sandstone Amphitheatre. I was hooked. Hooked, I say!
It was about that time that I read Neil Peart’s The Masked Rider: Cycling In West Africa for the first time. I fell in love with his storytelling, the rhythm of his words, and the intoxicating strangeness of West Africa. My brother and I talked about that book, and about Neil, for years afterward. It is safe to say that I am 100% gaagaa for Neil Peart. Not like I think he’s sooooo sexy omg but he’s ridiculously smart, ridiculously talented, and probably one of the coolest people to ever LIVE. Which is, I’ll admit, kind of hot.
I’m getting off topic.
Neil’s daughter and only child, Selena, died in a car accident not far from their home when she was in her late teens/early twenties. About a year later, his wife Jackie died of cancer (and a broken heart). Afterward, he wrote the incredibly moving The Ghost Rider and following that, Traveling Music. As I read each of these books, I felt woven into the world in a way that no other book had done before. I began to understand grief, beauty, Life, love, death, hope, renewal, and faith in a whole new way.
Last night I started The Masked Rider again. This is only the second time I’ve ever read it and my understanding of the world and my place in it has changed so profoundly that it’s like a whole different book. I’m in the middle of a section about his stay at a monastery and his epiphanies while there. Very similar to things that have been passing through my mind lately.
I’m glad to have picked this book up again, mainly because I know I have to read the other two now. The words are touching a part of my soul (my baby soul?) that has been wandering confusedly for the past eight or nine months. We’ll see where it takes me next.