Saturday, 6 July 2013
Life After Life
Am borrowing the title of Kate Atkinson's latest novel as it happens to be the second book I've read since my diagnosis. As I've written before, my capacity to read was extinguished like a light switch when I went into hospital in March as my racing mind just couldn't seem to settle long enough to absorb the words. But David Sedaris changed all that - one of my trusty "go-to" authors, as his mercifully short vignettes of his life were just the ticket to lead me back to my all-time love. So having made it through that - I moved on to the newest arrival from Kate, which all things considered, was an interesting choice. In a nutshell it imagines a life re-lived, over and over again, and the impact different choices and decisions have on one's fate. In the book, from the date of her birth, we follow the same character through key dates where aspects of her life have been altered completely. It is a thought-provoking read. Sometimes the question is asked, if you could change one thing about your life - what would it be? Every event begets other events and changes our character, in big and small ways. If we had the capacity to remove or alter events that wounded us, would we still be the same? If you subscribe to the theory that everything happens for a reason - then the lessons we learn from those events can have the effect of building other, perhaps neglected, pieces in our hearts - maybe our compassion, maybe our willingness to forgive. The thought of a "do-over" is intriguing, but ultimately frightening to me. I have no interest in taking away the uncomfortable bits, to sacrifice the good. After all, as all readers know, every bad chapter comes to an end. Eventually.