Enduring The Unthinkable: Read an extract from Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

Enduring The Unthinkable: Read an extract from Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

Start Reading Now

A lot happened to Leigh Sales in 2014. At eight months pregnant, she suffered a uterine rupture and came terrifyingly close to death, and as the year drew to a close, she covered two news stories that had a particularly profound impact on her. One was the story of the Sydney Lindt Café siege, the other the death of talented young cricketer Phillip Hughes, felled by a ball on a bright spring day.

Until that point, Sales had avoided bad news stories as much as possible. Early on in her career, she had learnt that she was not a journalist who thrived on ‘chasing ambulances or disasters,’ and she was always especially shaken by those out-of-the-blue events that turn lives upside down in an instant. But her own brush with death, as well as the unexpected, indiscriminate tragedies that she reported on at the end of 2014, made her realise that avoidance was not only pointless but impossible. It was time for her to walk towards what she most feared, instead of walking away from it.

So Sales dived right in, determined to find out all she could about blindsides, grief, and bouncing back. The result isAny Ordinary Day, one of the most powerful books I’ve read in a long time. At the book’s core are interviews with people who have suffered random and devastating tragedy – people like Stuart Diver, sole survivor of the 1997 Thredbo landslide, author Hannah Richell, whose husband died in a surfing accident, and Louisa Hope, one of the hostages taken during the terrifying Lindt Café siege.

Their stories are as heartbreaking as you’d expect, but there are also unexpected threads binding them together, threads of resilience, courage and remarkable hope. Every person interviewed has endured the unthinkable and come out the other side, certainly not the same as they were before, but with newfound empathy and strength, nonetheless; with new ideas and goals and perspectives on life.

Richell, for example, says to Sales at one point in the book, ‘I understand now that happiness isn’t some goal that we’re working towards… I just find peace and beauty in the smallest moments. I find myself feeling less afraid of life… It’s as if surviving the hardest thing – the greatest pain – frees me to live more courageously.’ It’s moving, inspiring, and intensely comforting reading, each story reminding you that although grief and loss are inevitable, in the face of trauma we are so much stronger than we think.

Beyond these extraordinary interviews, and Sales’s candid accounts of the challenges she herself has faced, Any Ordinary Day offers a fascinating exploration of how the human brain processes trauma and adapts to adversity. It’s interesting to find out, for example, that the increased inner strength and empathy many trauma survivors feel is actually a documented psychological phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. There’s also engrossing (and in most cases, encouraging) statistical analysis that shows us the probability of any one of the book’s unexpected, life-changing events happening to us.

Masterfully written, revelatory and genuinely uplifting, Any Ordinary Day reminds us of our strength and endurance, even when faced with the darkest of days. It reminds us that we’ll be okay.

About the author:

Leigh Sales is one of Australia’s most respected journalists. As the anchor of the ABC’s flagship current affairs program, 7.30, she has interviewed dozens of world leaders and celebrities, including Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, the Dalai Lama, Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, Harrison Ford, Leonardo DiCaprio and Julie Andrews. She has interviewed every living Australian prime minister and also anchors the ABC’s federal election coverage. Leigh is the winner of two Walkley Awards, Australia’s highest journalism honour; the author of the books Detainee 002 and On Doubt; and the co-host of a popular podcast called Chat 10, Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb.

Purchase a copy of Any Ordinary Day here 

Related Articles

Hilarious Huggabie Falls Finale: Read an extract from The Utterly Indescribable Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece

Kids & Ya

1 May 2019

Hilarious Huggabie Falls Finale: Read an extract from The Utterly Indescribable Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece

Compelling True Crime: Read an extract from Murder on Easey Street by Helen Thomas

News

15 March 2019

Compelling True Crime: Read an extract from Murder on Easey Street by Helen Thomas

    Hilarious, Honest, and Inspiring: Read an extract from Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga by Todd Alexander

    News

    15 March 2019

    Hilarious, Honest, and Inspiring: Read an extract from Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga by Todd Alexander

      Deeply Moving and Life-Affirming: Read an extract from The Things We cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

      News

      8 March 2019

      Deeply Moving and Life-Affirming: Read an extract from The Things We cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

        Captivating, Sparkling Gem: Read a sample chapter from Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke

        News

        6 March 2019

        Captivating, Sparkling Gem: Read a sample chapter from Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke

          Engrossing Tale of Light VS Dark: Read an extract from Crucible by James Rollins

          News

          15 February 2019

          Engrossing Tale of Light VS Dark: Read an extract from Crucible by James Rollins

            Captivating and Breathtaking: Read an extract from Driving into the Sun by Marcella Polain

            News

            15 February 2019

            Captivating and Breathtaking: Read an extract from Driving into the Sun by Marcella Polain

              Magical Experience: Read an extract from The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

              News

              15 February 2019

              Magical Experience: Read an extract from The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

                Turning Back Time: Read an extract from The Lost Girls by Jennifer Spence

                News

                13 February 2019

                Turning Back Time: Read an extract from The Lost Girls by Jennifer Spence

                  Battle of Emotions: Read an extract from We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

                  News

                  8 February 2019

                  Battle of Emotions: Read an extract from We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

                    Synopsis

                    The day that turns a life upside down usually starts like any other, but what happens the day after? Dual Walkley Award-winner Leigh Sales investigates how ordinary people endure the unthinkable.As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories – and a terrifying brush with her own mortality – sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event. What are our chances of actually experiencing one? What do we fear most and why? And when the worst does happen, what comes next?In this wise and layered book, Leigh talks intimately with people who’ve faced the unimaginable, from terrorism to natural disaster to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expecting broken lives, she instead finds strength, hope, even humour. Leigh brilliantly condenses the cutting-edge research on the way the human brain processes fear and grief, and poses the questions we too often ignore out of awkwardness. Along the way, she offers an unguarded account of her own challenges and what she’s learned about coping with life’s unexpected blows.Warm, candid and empathetic, this book is about what happens when ordinary people, on ordinary days, are forced to suddenly find the resilience most of us don’t know we have.
                    Leigh Sales
                    About the author

                    Leigh Sales

                    Leigh Sales is an award-winning journalist and author.She anchors 7.30 on ABC television. From 2006 to 2008, she was the network's National Security Correspondent and from 2001 to 2005, Washington Correspondent, covering the momentous years after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Leigh won a Walkley award in 2005 for her coverage of issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay and was also nominated for her on-the-ground reporting of Hurricane Katrina.Her first book, Detainee 002: the Case of David Hicks , was published in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for the 2008 Victorian Premier's Literary Prize and won the 2007 George Munster Award for Independent Journalism. Her second book, On Doubt , was published in 2009 as part of Melbourne University Publishing's 'Little Book on Big Themes' series, which features leading Australian writers including Germaine Greer, David Malouf and Don Watson.Leigh's writing has appeared in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and The Monthly. She writes a fortnightly blog for the ABC called 'Well-readhead'. Before joining the ABC, Leigh worked for the Nine Network. She has degrees in international relations and journalism.

                    Books by Leigh Sales

                    COMMENTS

                    Leave a Reply

                    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *