A while back Salon had a piece asking people what 10 minutes from their life would they like to live again. So I emailed a few people and asked them what 10 minutes would they re-live if they had the chance. A bit like groundhog day, but it’s not about going back to change anything but going back and being there and re-experiencing that moment for the second time.
Some people asked for anonymity and some were happy to have their names associated with what they said. In no particular order:
The time I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
MJ from Infurious:
Only 10 minutes? Okay, the 2 minutes at the birth of each of my kids. Obvious huh? I can’t think of a whole 10 minutes espcially so I’d like essentially 10 minutes made up of little snippets of their lives. The first time they said Daddy – that about a minute between them so Im up to 3. The first time they fed themselves – another minute. That’s four. The first time they took their first steps. The first time I changed their nappies. The first time I held Jake and he pee’d on me. The first time Meggan stood in the snow and shouted “Look, Daddy, nodes!”. The first time they said they loved me.
I’d like to relive those in a “Strange Days” kind of fashion. Oh yes.
It would have to be the birth of my son 🙂 Corny I know.
One Sunday at around 2pm, I spoke to my brother on the phone briefly about inane silly things like what I did with the car keys and the fact that he was up early that morning, unusual for a Sunday. He committed suicide, we think, two hours later.
I could have that phone call back.
Naturally I should say getting married to my wife and the birth of my four children but actually I’d love to see see Mach 2 in Concorde again as I did for my 30th birthday. I managed to do a supersonic snore after too much booze. And no, we didn’t pay Â£5000, we got airline staff rates. Not much hope of that happening again in my lifetime.
Ten minutes I would like to do again
Itâ€™s probably a clichéd post for a Mum but of all the moments I would do again is the time just as my daughter was born until the moment sometime later (probably about 10 minutes) before the doctor began to stitch me up.
I had a very difficult and drug-free as it turned out labour. That wasnâ€™t my intention at all, if things got bad I wanted pain relief. However events conspired that by the time things got so bad I wasnâ€™t able at all to vocalise that I needed something, anything, drugs, strong ones, besides at that stage I think the labour was so far along they wouldnâ€™t have been able to give me anything anyway.
I had been in labour since I woke up with pains every five minutes at 7.30am on the Thursday morning until her birth at 12.15pm on Friday, some 29 hours. For the main I was able to handle the pain and having gone to hospital at 6cm dilation (check the medical sites) with nurses telling me I was a champion with an obvious high pain threshold I thought I would hold out on drugs/epidural until things got bad. I thought I was and could continue to handle it.
By the time they pains became too much sometime around 7.30am on the Friday, it was the pushie pushie stage and nothing and no pain relief would have done helped. I thought I was going to die, I really did. I remember lying back thinking â€˜this is it Iâ€™m dyingâ€™. Obviously I didnâ€™t and the labour and my experiences is something I would like to write about but it is probably not a post for the squeamish and will deal with some horror parts and nasty doctor moments.
Like the moment I was squirming and writhing in pain between the labour and the appalling cramps in my legs due to the stirrups they put my ankles dangling in which meant I had nothing to push against, when the doctor smacked my thigh telling me to put my bottom back on the bed. Or the fact that I had been handling the labour well on my side, when they put me on my back to help the medical team and not me my pain intensified to levels I never thought possible rendering me incapable of speaking and knowing nothing except the intense pain that was going to kill me.
Maybe I will write that post and maybe not.
But what this is all leads up painting a background to is the 10 minutes when I finally pushed the Young Wan into the world enabled by forceps. They kept telling me â€˜one more push and then another straight awayâ€™ over and over again and I felt I didnâ€™t have it in me.
When she was pulled out from me I remember the pain almost instantly stopped and she was held up in front of me and it was like she was shining in a dazzling-white Zeus-like glowing God way. I remember the umbilical cord, itâ€™s beautiful blue and other luminescent colours, twisting and coiled leading up to her tummy and then she was placed on my tummy.
By the time I worked my arms up to hold her, she was swiped away to the corner where they did whatever on her.
I remember she didnâ€™t cry, I remember the midwife (one of two who were both absolutely wonderful unlike the b*stard male doctor) saying â€˜oh she is very laid-back – the very thing I love about her and the thing which drives me bloody mad to this day). Her dad told me later that she wasnâ€™t dazzling white at all, she was blue and the umbilical cord was the â€˜most minging thingâ€™ he had ever seen. Must have been some kind of pain-induced hallucination from me. Then the doctor began to stitch me. JESUS CHRIST – the pain the pain.
He also had the cheek to tell me it couldnâ€™t possibly hurt. Tell me that when you have pushed an 8lb8oz baby out from your body, ya big b*llox. Just because I have managed to push an 8lb8oz baby from inside me without pain relief does not mean I wonâ€™t feel someone push a needle over and over again (I apparently had â€˜layers and layersâ€™ of stitches – big ouch) into torn skin and thread it through. I wonder if he would have felt me kick him in the head?
Afterwards the Young Wanâ€™s dad ate my toast and drank my tea, all I wanted to do was doze while not being in pain. Some women talk about how wonderful that tea and toast was, I can tell you how wonderful not being in labour anymore was. At that stage the demon doctor could have sat on me having that culinary delight and I wouldnâ€™t have cared a tosh.
When her dad left to make all the phonecalls, I remember lying resting in the calm of av labour ward side room, with just herself and me in the room, which was so welcome considering there was a doctor, two midwives, a student and an student inspector as well as her dad when I had been giving birth. I remember lying spaced out in wonder just staring at this gorgeous strawberry-blonde (which developed into a beautiful head of redhair) baby girl in the cot beside me staring back up at me.
We called her Gorbie in those first few days because the forceps left marks on her head which more than resembled Gorbachev.
So to recap the 10 minutes I would have again are between when I finally pushed her into the world until that demon doctor started to stitch me up, obviously. Unless of course I had 8 minutes of the post delivery moments that could fast-forward to 2 minutes of the beautiful calm moment in the labour ward.
I’d like to experience more of my first life before I start asking for replays. 🙂
Off the top of my head, the only things that spring to mind are the encore at the first real concert I went to (Feeder, before their Coldplay-phase. They played ‘Just a Day’ and it was awesome.) and getting my good leaving and/or junior cert results, which probably marks me down as a huge nerd.
I do not do regrets and I do not reruns.
The past is like a foreign country that you don’t have a visa for. You hear a lot about it, and people are sometimes interested in hearing the story, but you can’t go back there.
If it were possible I’d like to go back to my first ten minutes of being self-aware or just coming into this world. That would be quite an experience I would think.
In 1988 I went to Lourdes with my school. I found myself at that young age of 12 to be at total peace while I was there. It is a strange feeling. Hold up, this kind of has a story behind it too.
Growing up when your parents haven’t two pennies to rub together isn’t easy. I come from a family of fifteen (eight boys and seven girls). My father and mother were settled members of the Travelling Community. There I said it.
Anyway back to me father. He made a living through music. He used to always say that a musician will never be poor. “If the big multinational sacks you, you can go down to the main Street with a fiddle and belt out a few tunes for a few bob. Busking is the most honest profession one can have.” he used to say. Anyway as you can gather, life was hard growing up in the 1980s when you had nothing .
As a student of St. Joseph’s School for the Visually Impaired in Drumcondra, I had the opportunity to go to Lourdes in 1988 with the HCPT (I am visually impaired).
Now I was no more religious then than I am now. The only thing that would get me into a church is either a friend’s Wedding or a relative’s funeral.
But there was one night, a Thursday night actually, standing on some sort of incline near the basilica, looking down on a river of candle light processioners all singing some him in a multitude of languages, I really felt at peace. Gone were the stresses of trying to impress the richer people in school, the worries of what people would think of my family and my background. All of it was just gone. It is one of the few times in my entire life that I have felt totally relaxed, happy, glad to be where I was at that time and place.
I have several 10 minute segments worth rewinding. But the first one that sprang to mind started at 1240 on a sunny afternoon of June 24, 1983. I was in a powder blue Karmann Ghia proceeding due south on a section
line near Enid, Oklahoma. I was en route to the Enid General Hospital to witness the birth of my first daughter. So focused, I ignored the road works signs that announced the road was closed. No worries–I had flown over the same stretch of road an hour before and knew nothing would be in the way as all the road construction trucks were off site. From the air, the road looked straight and inviting. It was a virgin stretch of tarmacadam that terminated a mile from the hospital.
Shortly after weaving around the warning barriers, I noticed the tarmacadam was radiating a heat layer into
the summer sun. Three hundred metres down the new road, I felt the car slowing down, as though I was driving in snow. It took more than a half hour to extricate myself from the furrows I had laid in the fresh road surface. I couldn’t turn around so I just ploughed forward, marking the road with six inch deep wheel marks.
Once through the road works, I stopped and tried to clean off the mess the tar had made of the car. I shouldn’t have stopped because I was late for the hospital.
And because of my off-road experience, I missed the Caesarian section that brought young Catharine into the world. I wish I was there for that moment and if I could replay the minutes leading up to my road works incursion, I would heed the signs and take the main road into the hospital.
Probably the last ten minutes where myself and my dad had a good relationship with each other and enjoyed each others company. We fell out with each other and have never made amends and things have happened so we never will.
For me it would be the last 10 minutes of climbing the Cosmiques Arete up to the Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix. It had been an amazing 3-4 hours of snow, ice and rock climbing, but my climbing partner and I were practically ecstatic by the time we reached the summit. Added to the great climbing, and the stunning views we were applauded by Japanese tourists on the Mont Blanc viewing platform when we climbed over the railings in full mountaineering gear at the finish of the route. For a few minutes we felt like celebrities.
I spent the third year of my university degree studying in a town in France, called Troyes. When I arrived I thought it was going to be easy, after all I’d studied French all the way through high school and again in university – but boy was I wrong, I could barely string together a sentence at the start of the year and it was nearly impossible to follow the rapid-paced French being flung at me.
At the start of the year we were split into 6 classes, so apart from people coming up and talking to me as ‘a foreign curiosity’ at the start of the year there were many people from the other classes that I didn’t come across again until the end of the year. A few weeks before our final exams we were taken on a day retreat to the most gorgeous little French village to give us time to relax and talk about our plans for the future. We were split in small groups and were told to note down our fears and hopes for the year ahead and then we would present them to the entire year group. When it came to presenting, my group decided to nominate me.
As with all university-aged groups, there were people in the class that were less interested in listening to the presentations as they went on, and more interested in gossiping through them! The lecturers tried to keep the group quiet, but they were struggling. I wasn’t looking forward to getting up and presenting, for even though my French was fluent at this point and my accent could even pass for a local for a brief period, I still wasn’t practiced at speaking in front of large groups and had a tendency to forget the words I was searching for…
My turn came and up I jumped. There was a small frisson of moaning in the crowd, as many of them thought I was going to struggle with my French and that this would be painful to listen to… And then the angel of fluency swept down and landed on my shoulder. Or something like that, because I began to speak with authority and confidence, the words just tripped off my tongue and something strange happened – the room fell silent as if people couldn’t believe what was happening. When I finished talking the room erupted into a massive round of applause and instead of asking questions people started standing up and complimenting me on how good my French had become – I couldn’t believe it!
It’s now 7 years since I left France and I rarely get to speak French these days, so I’ve lost the full fluency that I once had, but on days when I do need to speak French and struggle for the words I need, I just think back to that day and remember when it all went perfectly for me…
I’m a bit flummoxed being honest. It’s not so much a matter of experiencing something I’ve already been through. I don’t feel the need to. I’m not even sure that I would change anything about my life thus far – so why write this post?
I want to talk about experiences that I would like to watch my younger self go through. There are some very poignant moments that stick out in my mind and I wonder how I handled them. I would just like to be a neutral observer able to walk around freely. Some people would love to see incredible moments of history take place before their very eyes. I would like to watch a young guy try and navigate a life that strives for ideals in a cynical world that doesn’t come together the way he would like.
Have you ever heard someone say: “If I was in that situation I’d never have done that”? It’s a bit short-sighted really. During the Second World War it’s estimated that approximately 4% – 5% of the French people were active resistors and 2% – 3% were active collaborators. That leaves over 90% of people who just did nothing. People who just did nothing. It’s a particularly Irish trait to do anything except that which will have a tangible effect on their situation. Whatever a person says he/she cannot know how they will react to a situation until they are actually faced with that situation.
People react differently. People have different coping mechanisms to monumental events. I discovered mine on an autumn’s evening. I was at home alone with my three brothers. I’m the oldest. They’re my little brothers. It doesn’t matter if they become more successful than me or become richer than me or even become taller than me. They will always be my little brothers. It was my paternal grandfather who instilled this protective nature in me. I was the man of the house. It was my job to look out for my brothers and my family. He was a man who was over 6 feet tall, well built but had no problem in hugging those he loved. He always got up when a woman entered the room as a sign of a respect rather than for any foolish notion of inferiority. He was an ‘active citizen’ who was involved with sports and athletics. He was an example to follow.
When the phone rings in my house it’s essentially a battle of nerves. Among the children the winners are those who can wait the longest before cracking and rushing to answer the pervasive beckon call of modern life. On this occasion my brothers were watching TV so I answered the phone even though I was annoyed to be leaving my homework to do so. An aunt was on the phone. The Cork accent is always slightly faster and hushed when there’s bad tidings afoot. Her’s is no exception. “Steven is your father there?” “No.” “Is your mother there?” “No.” Somewhere in the world doubtless there was another boy realising he had to become a man today. “Is there any adult there?” “No.”
She proceeded to inform me that my paternal grandfather had been given a few hours to live by the doctors in the home he was convalescing in. She said it was important that my father be there as soon as possible. I told her that I’d take care of it. I put the phone down and made sure there was no change in the normal way my feet tend to run up stairs.
I went up to my room. I shut the door behind me. I lay my head on my pillow. I bawled my eyes out. I hugged the pillow close so that no-one could hear me. I can’t remember what thoughts struggled through the morass of feelings and maelstrom of emotion in my mind. I just remember getting up and picking up the phone. I had to make a couple of phone calls before I finally managed to track down Dad. He was in Galway. I had to tell my Dad over the phone that his father was dying in a hospital. The likelihood was that he’d be dead before he was able to be by his side. I then went into the front room and told my three brothers the news concerning their grandfather acting like a man of the house. I went back and finished my homework.
As it turned out my grandfather rallied and didn’t pass on for another 3 weeks. I didn’t cry beyond that time I spent like a little child mourning the loss of a man I admired and loved. Not at the removal. Not at the funeral. Not even when I was alone afterwards. It’s not so much a case that I want to experience any particular 10 minutes of my life again. But that is one of the times I would like to watch my younger self navigate the lot that life gave me.
If anyone wants to add to this leave something in the comments as anon or with your own name or blog about it and I’ll link you you from here
Some great stuff in there; fair play to all who contributed.
It kind of reminded me of PostSecret in a way; a mixture of some of the most harrowing moments life throws at us with some of the more beautiful.
Would have sent my own in, but even now I’m not certain what I’d pick.. I’d need to give it a few weeks thought!
I stood in the basement car park in Dublin having a cigarette one Friday morning in 2003, my younger brother (at home in Cork) was about to head on holidays the next day. I remember thinking I should call him and tell him to enjoy himself and take it handy. I didn’t, I just sent him a text, and forgot all about it. He was found dead early Sunday morning. I’ll always regret not calling him, perhaps I could have said something that would have changed it all. If I could re-live 10 minutes, it’d be any ten minutes during his 17 years.
Your first anon’s reply kicks me in the stomach.
This post has been swimming around my head for a full day – which is longer than a typical blog post. I’ve nothing to add myself, but stupendous stuff Damien.
Iâ€™ve been thinking about what Iâ€™d pick since I got Damienâ€™s mail about this and although I thought Iâ€™d settled on one or two things, I still havenâ€™t made my mind up about it. Anytime it occurred to me so many came up and I never got round to replying unfortunately. Many of those on my shortlist had to do with getting married or were about our daughter Hannah, her birth and watching her grow. But I wanted to avoid that Hallmark moment.
The idea of returning in time has never appealed, even to nice events. Youâ€™d have to deal with the disappointment that they are not the same as you remembered. The memory and the reason why itâ€™s a good one is better.
I wouldnâ€™t even want to relive the last conversation I had with my 79 year old father, the night before he went down for the operation from which he would not recover. We discussed the risks then and the lightness at the end of our chat was based on us both presuming that everything would be okay. What else could we think? But Iâ€™m glad Damien has put this together and the entries, in their poignancy and humour are excellent.
I have to say that I laughed out loud reading Bernie’s. For some reason I had images of Wile E Coyote in my head.