I abandoned many years ago any notion of trying to find the meaning of life once I discovered there wasn’t any. There were no answers because I learned that the only reason I was on this earth was because of the accident of my birth. And just the other day, I had what I can only describe as an epiphany, the beginning of some kind of understanding of how I ended up where I am today and what brought me here. Still, I have no clarity, so what follows will probably be garbled and unstructured. I have to start somewhere.
The reality, the somewhat obvious reality that escaped me until now, is that I am almost entirely self-taught. In every way imaginable. I left school with one ‘O’ level and sundry minor qualifications, no knowledge of science, religion, practical subjects, of girls; of life itself. I had no coaching at any sports (and didn’t it show), no idea what to do with my life. I have had to pick it all up along the way.
None of this is unique to me, I know. To some extent or other, we all have find our own way along through life, making decisions based upon experience, by what appears to be logic and sheer guess work. It has been since I started researching for a far greater (for me) writing project that some things began to make more sense.
To all intents and purposes, school was for me a waste of time. I know that education is not a waste of time – the exact opposite, in fact – but I struggle to think what use senior school in particular was to me. With the exception of one subject and one teacher, English language and Mrs Defonseca, I am pretty sure I learned nothing of any use. I might as well have stayed at home. What I learned and didn’t learn from my parents: that’s for another day, or maybe longer than a day.
What I now know about the things that matter, but mainly the things that don’t, is what I learned along the way. Leaving school in 1974, I knew absolutely nothing about any of the three sciences in which I had nominally been taught. All I knew about biology was how not to make a girl pregnant. For most of the time, that worked.
The next stage is finding out why things turned out like they did. As I ‘celebrate’ 50 years of glorious poor mental health, what part did that play in my lack of knowledge? Or was my lack of knowledge part of the cause? And does any of it matter as I lurch, directionless as ever, along the road through middle to old age? Questions, eh, and so few answers.
Even when I was performing so dismally at school and later at work, I kept thinking to myself, was I a halfwitted simpleton because my education seemed to suggest just that? I never felt like a simpleton, yet all the evidence suggested that I was.
Now, maybe, a spark in the darkness. A glimpse of a greater understanding. Some explanation of why things are like they are and how they could have been different. Very deep for a Friday morning. You see why I don’t always sleep so well, don’t you?