Have you ever wondered about the meaning of life and its origins?
I began the quest for the these from around the age of nineteen through reading books by Erich Von Daniken. I obtained his Chariots of the Gods, the first in a series of books where he theorised that we came from a supreme celestial astronaut. I eagerly absorbed this information as any young, impressionable mind would. This subject occupied my reading habits for about four years until it became too familiar to continue with. One day while browsing through books in a newsagent I came across a thin, small navy blue, hardback book that looked more like an accountant’s ledger than a reading book. It bore the title of New Testament, which in a momentary lapse of memory I thought had something to do with a will. When I opened it up I soon recognised by the layout that it was of course the second section of the bible. Possessed with a creative mind-set I was drawn to the rich illustrations rather than the textual content and therefore purchased the book for this reason. This was not to say that I ignored the text altogether. As a bus driver at the time I browsed through the testament at terminuses not really understanding the theology behind what I was reading. In effect I was just like the Ethiopian Eunuch reading an Old Testament scripture as he rode his chariot not understanding what he was reading either (Acts 8:26 – 40). The only difference between us was that there was no one running alongside my ‘chariot’ to ask if I understood. This fleeting bolt of lightning experience with the thin book gave way to magazines and books that fed my next pre-occupation – fitness – before Marxism took hold in 1982. For then and the next four years I immersed myself in reading anything to do with Marx: writings by Lenin, Trotsky, Mao and their acolytes. I added appended theories and -isms such as feminism, humanism, post-modernism and also Irish Republicanism in the form of An Phoblacht. My book shelves, bedside cabinet, workplace locker and even the glove compartment as well as every recess in my mind were dominated by this material in book, magazine, tract and thought. I duly joined a revolutionary faction that aimed to bring about the transformation of society that this material propagated and which I had come to believe in. I lent myself to demonstrations, marches and picket lines even risking arrest and the sacrifice of my marriage for the cause: ‘Socialism doesn’t come cheap,’ was my motivating principle. I also sold the group’s weekly paper,did door to door, shop-floor and street canvassing. I went at it hammer and sickle. This lasted until the collapse of the 1984 – 85 Coal Strike that ended in defeat for the miners. My revolutionary zeal irresistibly collapsed along with it. All that Marxist hype about capitalism being in crisis, that the conditions were ripe for a transformation of society; that a new epoch dawned for man and so on came crashing down too leaving me standing n the midst of the ruins in total naked disillusionment. I clothed myself in pragmatism and retreated to the valley of introspection. While there I cleared out all Marxist influence and thought. Tellingly, after completing this process and subsequently cleared the bookshelves there was only one book left standing. Now back out of the valley all I needed was someone to come alongside and help me understand the book and consequently the meaning of life and its origins.