Last week, I begun the first of my four-part series on being an Atheist in a Foxhole, to counter the naive thought that at the moment of death, Man always cries out for a higher power, based my own experiences. Here is the 2nd part of that series.
In April 2007, I actually went to work in Iraq, because apparently being held up a few years earlier wasn’t enough of a close call for me. I needed more and I got a lot more than I bargained for.
iEat, iFat, iLive
This is the story of how being called fat saved my life. It was a few weeks into my new Iraqi adventure, and boy was it an out of this world experience. Due to the long hours, and the nutritional deficiency of the food, I had put on about 10 kg (22 pd) in a short time. In the meantime, I had sent some pictures of myself to my family in the south of Iraq. The next day, my cousin called me, and told me I got FAT!! Iraqi’s are very forthcoming, and if they noticed something that’s changed about you, they won’t hesitate to say it.
I was floored. I really had gotten fat. It was time to go back to the gym. I had been going to the gym once or twice a week, but only to weight train, and never to do cardio. I was simply too drained at the end of each workday, but now a fire had roused within me, and I was determined to drop the excess poundage.
The very next day, after my usual workout, I stayed in the gym an extra 40 minutes, to run. More truthfully, to oscillate between running and walking as I really was out of shape.
35 minutes into the 40 minutes of that cardio, I got a call on my phone. It was my friend, asking me if I was ok. Not knowing what was going on, I said “Of course, why?”
“You’re room is gone.”
“What do you mean it’s gone?”
“It got hit by mortar,” my friend, Samer said in his broken English.
At this point, I yell out to everyone in the gym, most of whom live in the vicinity of my room, that a mortar had exploded in our camp, and ran out of the gym directly to my room to see a crowd gathering in front. What I found when I arrived would put me in my cousin’s debt for the rest of my life.
It turns out, that a rocket went through my roof, out the side, exploded about 6 metres (20 feet) away in the side of the palace next door, and sprayed back shrapnel peppering the room with hundreds of pieces of flying debris, which sliced its way through the thin metal of my enclosure.
When life gives you a spare tyre, hit the gym… It just may save your life.
My cousin, and my extended family, all of whom are devoutly religious, were quick to thank God for saving my life, but I knew the truth; the cultural norm of the Iraqi people; a quickness to point out changes in another person, instigated in me, the necessary drive and motivation to goto the gym, to lose some weight, and therefore, by complete and utter coincidence, ensured that I was not in my tin can of a room, at the time of the explosion, thereby ensuring my continued long, and meaningless live. In short, my cousin saved my life, not God.
I am as sure of that now, as I was then, and the only thing that would have been waiting for me, on the other side of that abyss we call death, is eternal blackness; I am an atheist in a foxhole.
Thank you for reading. Part 3 will be up in a few short days, and it is even crazier than parts 1 and 2 combined, consisting of events that took place over 8 long, brutal hours. Each one of my stories seemingly, somehow, perhaps miraculously getting worse, and I closer to my end. I have both horrible, yet unimaginably good luck.