I’ve been reading Norman Ollestad’s memoir Crazy for the Storm, which Starbucks has chosen for its latest featured book. As a preteen in 1979, Ollestad survived a small-plane crash that killed his beloved father, an adventurous child star-turned-lawyer who had taught the author to surf and ski when the younger Ollestad was barely old enough to stand. The memoir cuts back and forth from the crash scene to childhood memories in which Ollestad junior and senior — both are named Norman — face snow and sea alone, father and son, the former confident and ever optimistic, the latter timid and even furiously resentful at first but growing ever more enthusiastic. It’s interesting to learn how lessons learned through skiing and surfing — such as how to gauge distances and one’s own strength as well as how to navigate and handle frozen surfaces — proved so useful in the wake of the crash as to save Ollestad’s life.
Stories of survival like this one, which focus on love and inner strength rather than victimhood, are all too rare these days.
And it just goes to show you: Whatever you know now, even if you hated learning it, might come in handy someday.
And if I’m ever in a situation where hula-dancing is the only thing that stands between life and death….