I recently read Stephen King's latest wonder, Doctor Sleep. This book is a follow up on The Shining. Whatever happened to Danny Torrance? In addition to watching The Shining, I have also read the book. I almost always prefer the book over the movie. I think a lot of fellow readers would agree with me on this.
I liked several things about Doctor Sleep. I'm glad it wasn't nearly as scary as The Shining. I can do scary, but I like the way King handled Danny's life after the Overlook Hotel fiasco. Yes, the True Knot in Doctor Sleep is made up of some very freaky people doing terrifying things to those with a bit of shine. And Hollywood would probably fright show it up more than what comes across in the book. That's okay. People like to be scared. People like good versus evil. I would love to go on about all the goods and all the evils in this book. I digress.
This blog post isn't intended to be a book review. I want to focus on an element in Doctor Sleep that I found quite thought provoking. We all know that Dan (he's all grown up from his Danny days) has the shining and is way more perceptive than the average bear. Dan is imperfect and scarred after his terrifying ordeal in Colorado. Doctor Sleep depicts Dan's journey into the adult world of alcohol, bad choices, regrets, new beginnings, new friends, and family. Danny uses his shining gift in a beautiful and touching way. He works in a hospice (hot spice, love that), and he eases the dying; he guides them and comforts them as they breathe their last.
Stephen King presents a flawed hero who shows incredible patience with these ebbing, frail beings. Dan's gentleness as he wipes their faces and whispers bits of nostalgia gleaned from their tired bodies is both touching and inspiring. He gives them the only things they need in their last human moment on earth: compassion, understanding, reassurance, and a calm command to simply fall asleep.
When everyone bustles to fix the world's problems (including dying) with money, prestige, drugs, or false hope, can we be that selfless person who knows when a gentle touch and a kind word are all that is needed? Can we be that person who is just there?
Dan Torrance a.k.a. Doctor Sleep inspires me to be that person.
I don't have the shining (although I have had double dreaming/false awakening a time or two), but I don't need extra or special powers to offer my hand to fellow life and death travelers.
"Death was no less a miracle than birth."
Thank you Mr. King for another great read!