We are constantly bombarded with cheesy Hollywood tag-lines about how our lives can change completely from one moment to the next; recently deceased friends’ children turning up on your doorstep, inheriting millions from an uncle you never knew, getting stranded on a desert island with one of the Olsen twins… Just look at every movie Katherine Heigl has ever made for Christ’s sake. But how often do we ever listen. The very medium with which we are told things makes us resent them, reject them even. I, for one, rejected the idea that my life could change in a second. Until last night, that is, when my mum decided to burn some papers in the garden, left it unattended and accidentally set fire to our entire house. And yeah, don’t worry, she WILL be getting a shredder for Christmas. 20 minutes, 2 fire trucks, 10 curious neighbours and one knight-in-shining-armour later, the damage wasn’t actually too bad.
But the real damage wasn’t in the charred remains of our garden furniture. The whole affair made me question those beliefs I spent years collecting. I resented the idea of determinism; I am far too stubborn to admit I have no control over things. But was it just pure chance that things were ok, or was it fate? As I lay in bed after a few too many Kalms and cups of tea, I could help but create a chain of events that had a wholly more morbid ending; if I hadn’t decided to come home that night, my mum might have not heard the fire until it was too late. If Robin and Sophie, two perfect strangers, hadn’t decided to take a walk down our road after dinner, and Robin hadn’t run into a burning building without hesitation, the flames would have reached our cars and probably blown up most of the street. He could have been someone completely different; it is not just any man who decides to attack 20-foot flames with saucepans of water, burning himself in the process, but still apologising afterwards for breaking our cupboard. Robin couldn’t have known there was a bottle of white spirit about a metre from him that could have killed him; he just did it. It wasn’t just a lucky coincidence, it was a bloody god-send. My head was spinning… Out of all the people who decided to walk down our street that night, we couldn’t have been luckier. I really don’t think the Marks and Spencer hamper they received this morning even comes close to thanking him for what he did.
So, yes, I do believe in fate. I believe some things are meant to be; the fire was meant to happen, the man was meant to be a hero, the event was meant to make us shock us into action. And to think, I came home for a rest. Cheers mum. So count your blessings, don’t burn papers in the garden and make sure you live every day to its fullest. There’s one cheesy Hollywood tag-line I’ll start abiding by. Peace.