Today we will be discussing an author whose life has been shaped by various circumstances and his book that will serve as a testimony of all those struggles and hardships. Albert Peters has written this book ‘”It's all in the Nerves” to not only share the phenomenology of his life but also bring to the forefront the journey of his family. Through this book, Peters aims to celebrate the history of his family and to leave behind a written legacy.
Before sharing the author's background, it is imperative to shed light on his present.
Albert Peters, as of now, has a condition known as Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS). This syndrome affects polio survivors' years after they have suffered an acute attack of the poliomyelitis virus. PPS involves the degeneration of nerve terminals in motor units in the spinal cord. The Poliovirus specifically attacks brainstem neurons and the anterior areas of the spinal cord; therefore, the initial presence of this syndrome is felt through muscular weakness. However, some neurons survive this attack generating nerve-end terminals that get attached to the orphaned muscle fibers leading to the recovery of muscle movement. Even though muscle movement is recovered through this process, but the recovery is not permanent. Muscle function gradually declines, leading to the inability to perform trivial tasks as-well. Furthering the discussion on symptoms of this condition, research has also been found that respiratory muscles are affected to the greatest extent. An adverse impact on respiratory muscles can, in some cases, lead to other respiratory diseases as-well. In addition to this, patients also suffer from weakness in swallowing muscles. Therefore, Post-Polio syndrome, in most cases, is not life-threatening; however, it leads to an inability to perform everyday tasks due to diminished muscular function.
Despite having to struggle through the aforementioned challenges, the author is thriving to pen down his life history.
Despite suffering through Post-Polio Syndrome, Peters is eager to solidify his history. The question that arises here is what makes Peters' life history unique and worthy of being shared with a wider audience. The answer to this lies in two heart-wrenching events that define human history. The first being our world's greatest economic crisis – The Great Depression. Even though the author was not yet born during this era, but his parents have been witnesses to the unimaginable atrocities of this crisis. Peters' aim for this book is not limited to documenting only his life. His goal is to honor both the contributions and sufferings of his parents.
The Great Depression that started with a stock market crash in 1929, was a period clouded with uncertainty. The mass devaluation of money, in turn, led to the availability of resources needed for survival, such as food, water, and shelter became scarce. People, specifically those belonging to the lower and middle class, came face to face with unprecedented financial instability. Indeed, it was an era of darkness with minimal employment opportunities leading to people barely surviving on leftovers and tight budgets. The Great Depression gnawed at the mental and emotional health of an individual as well. It caused anxiety and stress for the bread-winners of the family regarding the house-hold expenses. Even though the author was not alive then, but his heart goes out to those who powered through this era with little to no resources left.
Therefore, Peters' work will serve as an ode to all those alongside his persistent and strong-headed parents. Through this writing venture, he is honoring his ancestors' sacrifices, who fed the younger generation before themselves. For him, highlighting The Great Depression from the lens of a son whose parents have lived through the era is a way to return the love, compassion, and selflessness that his parents have shown towards their children.
The second marker that defines the collective human history and particularly the life history of Albert Peters is the Second World War. Peters was born around the time of the Second World War, which is a blessing in disguise for him as he was shielded from most of the traumatic visuals of the war. However, the trauma associated with living through war is much deeper and far more complex. The lingering fear of death occupies one's mind; it instills a sense of horror and vulnerability. A war can be signified through the fear of losing every sacred aspect of one's life, and similar was the case for Peters because when he thinks about the possibility of losing his family due to the war, it implants an unsettling feeling inside his heart. To be aware that each morning will no longer be a symbol of newness. It would be the same darkness with no end in sight. It is difficult to imagine, so what must it feel like to wake up in those mornings?
Peters, through his book, will encapsulate the feeling of living through a war. He aims to go beyond describing these feelings and ultimately connecting the Second World War with the experiences of his family. This book will be an interesting outlook on The Second World War. It will portray the perspective of a normal family who wishes to celebrate the little things in life and stays happy with sharing meals and laughter at a dinner table.
After learning about both the author and the past experiences that have shaped his life, it is also essential to discuss the inspiration behind his work. Peters is a person who is writing this book for his family, more so than the masses. He believes that knowing one's history is necessary. Therefore, this book is his way of manifesting his beliefs. For Peters, his words are an ode to the life lived by his parents and himself.
The book will serve as a resource for the generations that follow him so that they can learn the detailed lives of their ancestors. Apart from the author's admiration of history, there is also an underlying personal motivation to write this book. Peters, due to the chaotic life, was unable to create meaningful familial bonds with his ancestors, who, in his opinion, have been forgotten. Therefore, he will live through his words that all his descendants can learn about, take inspiration from, and most importantly, be constantly reminded of him.