Review: Any Ordinary Day

by Leigh Sales, Penguin Group Australia, 2018

Any Ordinary Day, written by ABC’s 7.30 news and current affairs host, Leigh Sales, explores blindsides, resilience and what happens after the ‘worst’ day of your life.

Sales gives an honest account of what Juliet Darling, Stuart Diver, Louisa Hope, Walter Mikac, Hannah Richell, James Scott and Michael Spence went through and tries to honour their experiences  and the lives of those who were loved and lost.

In Any Ordinary Day, Sales explores with in-depth interviews and extensive research the effect of life-changing events and the strength, hope and humour which assisted ordinary people, on ordinary days, to navigate their way through an extraordinary event. She asks the questions we’re often too afraid to ask, but we all think about.

Some of those interviewed are people of faith and they share how their faith played a role in working through the event. Whether they’re people of faith or not, it’s the resilience and optimism of human nature, as well as those around them, that shines through.

I was gifted Any Ordinary Day from a wise colleague, whilst grieving the death of a friend in an accident. I felt fearful of my inadequate attempts to support the family. This book helped me to realise the unimaginable pain they’re experiencing and that my mistakes can’t really make it worse. Sadly, I also can’t make it better.

Walter Mikac, who lost his wife, Nanette and two daughters, Alannah and Madeline in the 1996 Port Arthur shooting, says in the book, “There’s nothing anyone could say, no matter how badly it came out, that could be as bad as what’s already happened to you. So it’s much better for people to just let you know that they’re there to help, if you need it. For people to show that they’re still there is the most important thing.”

I binge read Any Ordinary Day, I cried and even had an occasional chuckle, but I also felt courage to try to continue to be there for my friend, no matter how inept I was.

Sales, in the final paragraph of the book says, “All I can tell you is that life is richer, kinder and safer than the news would have you believe. People are more decent. The things you think you wouldn’t be able to survive, you probably can. You will be okay. There’s really only one lesson to take from all of this and that is to be grateful for the ordinary days and to savour every last moment of them. They’re not so ordinary, really. Hindsight makes them quite magical.”

Whether you’re a loved one, friend or an ordinary person, on an ordinary day dealing with an extraordinary event, I pray that you’ll be blessed, as I was, by reading Any Ordinary Day and that you’ll try to be a blessing to others as a result.

Maggie Johns

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