Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Calvinists Rocked in '96

School meant nothing to me in the September days of the year 1996. In a disconcerting reaction to the events of the summer holidays, I was reluctant to return to the classroom.

That had never happened before. The weeks before classes recommenced were generally all about picking pretty pens and notebooks and looking through the new books, in unashamed, nerdish anticipation.

The apathy of that term was lifted only with one particular history class that brought me back to my learning. In studying the Reformation, we were introduced to the Calvinists, and I liked the cut of their jib.

Specifically, I liked the idea of Pre-Destination, which lay at the heart of their doctrine - the idea that before each human is born, their life is laid out, their course is already set, and the day of their death has already been programmed by god.

This brought me great comfort, because all at once the events of the August 8th just past made some sense to me. It was reassuring to think my Dad had died on a day that had been determined long ago, that he was taken because that was simply the plan.

I think about Pre-Destination a lot nowadays, and how it fits with my own circumstances. That was a revelation, the day it dawned on me that without the intervention of modern medicine, I would have died at some point in Summer/Autumn 2008.

Was that my time to go?

Maybe it was. I have always joked that I peaked too soon in life. I experienced and lived with loss as a teenager, I knew certain grown-up responsibilities and worries at a young age, I had success earlier than others.

Let’s say, (for the sake of my 96th blog post, bearing in mind that my material is becoming increasingly scant), that I was meant to die in August 2008. By that point, I had written and published a book; I had worked as a journalist with some degree of success; fallen in love; fallen out of love; lived for a time in America; seen sunsets and danced ‘til dawn; gotten drunk; tried smoking; tried some drugs; I had mourned and had known days of celebration; I had worn a cap and gown; had paid taxes and passed my driving test; I had walked the sand of several beaches on the shores of the Atlantic, the Adriatic and the Pacific; I had appeared on television and radio; had learned enough to know enough.

A life lived, really.

Then there is the reality of the last three or so years, and the person I have been in that time. I have felt lost. I have behaved badly, lost interest in most areas of life, lost ambition to pursue any kind of career, and have been unrecognisable at times, even to myself. I have definitely become harder, less kind, less sure of what is right and wrong, with less regard for the rules I have followed since I was young.

You might say all of this was a reaction to being diagnosed. But what if it wasn’t? What if all of this is because I’m not supposed to even be here at this stage?

Perhaps I am lost, simply because there was no path charted for me past some unknown date in 2008.

Perhaps I have outstayed my welcome in this world, and just like the house guest that doesn’t know when to go home, the conversation has lulled, things are strained, and the atmosphere is increasingly tense.


  1. I think the path just includes this period of uncertainty and some apathy. Going with the Calvinist theme, I'm sure advances in modern medicine would be seen as part of a far bigger picture.

    Apologies if I'm not making sense, I'm far too sober.

  2. I'm with Radge.

  3. This blog broke my heart a little. Such beautiful writing...such difficult questions. I had thought your blogs lately seemed more hopeful with mountain climbs and first dates. I guess you are examining your life and it doesn't measure up to the life you had before. This is a moment in time and the one certainity is everything changes. Hang in there for as long as you can, I don't think you're done yet.

  4. Radge - That made perfect sense, and since one of my previous posts, I have applied your thinking to my the whole theory of evolution. That definitely takes into account the advances in modern medicine. I'm not sure where such progress fits into religion - any religion - however.

    LaneyTiggy - Siding with Radge is always a good move!

    Anonymous - Thanks so much, that's a lovely comment from you. Don't be heartbroken...I have good days and bad, and overall, I think I'm probably a more hopeful person now than I was prior to sickness. Strange, I know. But I do have preoccupations that can sometimes be dark and grumbling. I don't apologise for that - it's the patient's prerogative to be a little reflective at times.