1st September: a year ago yesterday I came out of hospital. A brief reprieve, alas, as I was back in again a month later. Looking back, I am amazed at how fast the last year has zoomed by. Were there really 365 days, with 24 hours in each? Should I ask for an action replay? Or a chance to delete and replace with something more pleasant and positive?
“The moving finger writes, and having writ
moves on. Nor all thy piety and wit
can lure it back to cancel half a line,
nor all thy tears rub out a word of it.”
We often feel we’d like the opportunity to rewind and do it differently – and maybe that has occurred in some parallel universe. September seems to be a fateful month in my life; frequently, some apparently minor decision or event in September has taken me down a certain route that has changed the course of my life. If only I’d done A instead of B!
It’s a favourite theme in time travel tales – can you intervene in the past and change history? How do we know whether someone really has done that, and the history we are familiar with isn’t the history that actually happened? Much can turn on a seemingly trivial event.
Here’s a potential Dr Who scenario: suppose in 1066 King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings and established an Anglo-Saxon kingdom that followed its course for centuries. Then a time-traveller went back, stuck an arrow in Harold’s eye and gave the victory to Duke William, with the results that we accept as historically accurate and the other version of history was forgotten.
The consequences of the Norman Conquest are so far-reaching that they are still having an effect today, almost a thousand years later. So just try to imagine what would be different nowadays if Harold had won? The English language, for a start, and the English legal system.
Obviously, if I were able to go back and prevent my illness last year, it wouldn’t have that kind of impact. It would in fact have very little impact on anyone, as far as I can see. It would certainly have saved the NHS some money and allowed my daughter and granddaughter to get on with their lives as planned, without the inconvenience of having to come and take care of me and my mother. It would certainly have spared my mother some stress.
My path crossed the paths of some people in hospital – medical staff and patients – whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise, although I doubt whether that has affected them to any extent. I have discovered a lot of information about ostomies and bowel diseases that I was formerly ignorant of, and encountered some lovely people on facebook, but again – I don’t think my adventures make any difference to them.
I have to conclude, then, that it was all purely for my own benefit: an enriching experience for which I am grateful.
I’ll keep my piety, wit and tears for more useful purposes than trying to rub out any word of my past.