31. Information overload
The events of 2002 would be the most interesting of my life. Extraordinary is a better description. I was absolutely certain that circumstances surrounding my life were not co-incidental, but guided by the powerful force which I tapped into every morning. It gave me peace despite the problems, confidence despite confusion. I had learned to trust God and to only open my mouth when appropriate. Isobel did not try to believe me. That was fine with me. I loved her just as much.
Having come through a mental illness and recovered remarkably I took any confirmation of my rationality as a sign of my mental health. I kept noticing little things almost daily, linking my surroundings and what I heard with my website or the contents of my book. My email contact with the Advertiser newspaper intensified after the state election. Did others also find it puzzling that one man was placed centre stage in the political arena in South Australia?
There was still my little basket sitting in Mr. T’s office, or so I assumed. Did he arrange a parliamentary ‘show and tell’ afternoon to share the surprise gift from his unknown, mentally unstable driving instructor friend? All my feedback came from reading the newspaper or listening to the radio.
Occasionally I would become fearful and doubts would overwhelm me. It happened usually when I was physically exhausted through lack of sleep. I feared retribution from the unknown enemy. On Monday 11/2/02 around 11 AM I was walking in the vicinity of the Coles Shopping complex in Modbury Heights. One of my clients was out with an examiner for a driving test. A grey Holden Commodore slowly drove past me, the driver looking right at me. The vehicle entered the car park on the far side, circled a traffic island and turned back in my direction.
Months before I had pondered about my name Dieter. It rhymes with Peter but Australians often pronounced it as Die-ter. If I reversed the syllables one could read ter-die into it – to die! Not a nice thought; my brain kept reminding me at that moment that there are people who would rather have me silenced. After all I may have been regarded as trying to blackmail a government Minister, befriend a convicted paedophile and hold information about a failed government initiative that could be embarrassing to certain people who covered up their failures instead of facing them.
The moment I had noticed the car slowing and the driver staring at me, I became aware of the possibility of being harmed. From experience, however, I knew that many of these tactics may be staged to just scare me. My whereabouts would not be difficult to trace, if someone wanted to. Driving test details have to be logged on to the government computer. Anyone with access to this information would know exactly the time and place where I was, when presenting a student for a test. I wondered if my illness, the paranoid part, was rearing its ugly head again.
The grey Commodore, registered No. VLL 495 stopped in the middle of the road near me. The driver leaned over, wound down his passenger window as if to speak to me. Instead, he just stared at me again for a moment. I was about to walk over to see if he wanted to find out directions or such like. As I moved towards him, he drove off at once. When the examiner returned, I mentioned it to him and also gave him the car’s registration number.
The negative side of my journey was thankfully mixed with the humourous and wacky side of things. On Friday 22/2/02 my attention in the newspaper was drawn to a small item:
"Mrs. Willis does not identify with her husband Mr. Willis’ views on dog control issues."
It sounded so funny. The name Willis itself, without much decoding could read will Is? I always called Isobel Is for short. But the fact that Mrs. Willis does not agree with Mr. Willis struck me as doubly funny. Isn’t it just Isobel and me all over? I looked up the particular Willis in the phonebook. They live in No.., …Street …Suburb. Then a strange co-incident struck me. I had a student named Michael book a driving lesson in exactly the same number and street, only a different suburb.
To respond to the notice that I found very strange, I phoned the newspaper’s talkback line and left a message: “Eventually all will and Is will.” Let them make head of tail of it.
In between my driving lesson I listened to the radio. A lady rang on Radio 5 DN talkback. I just picked up enough to make me think and link. Without hearing what it was all about I heard her mentioned the ratio could be 2:1 or 3:1. It immediately reminded me of my afternoon at the press conference in Parliament House. This kind of linking was taking place all the time. As 2002 progressed I responded less and less to what I thought were stimuli just to make me react. I was slowly getting tired of the game.
In the newspaper I noticed an article which included a photo. It showed a car crash at a busy Adelaide intersection. The headline read: “When green does not mean go!” My road safety book had an identical headline. Following my uploading of the six attitudes of a Christian life I noticed a huge centrespread in the Advertiser:
The headline: Six ways to think “Outside the Square”. It showed six suggestions to revamp Adelaide’s central park, Victoria Square. I was sure this all had to do with my website, my online newsletter “Outside the Square” and perhaps with my ability to link.
Isobel as usual could not see the connection from my online newsletter article to the very same title as the headline in the paper. I tried to explain that the six ways mentioned refer to the six attitudes about Christian living. She did not look at the newspaper article, but promised that she would listen to me more, if I was a good boy and take my tablets. The frustration became almost unbearable at times.
Numerous headlines in the Advertiser captured my imagination during the first half of 2002 and throughout. Political reporter Greg Kelton, the one I sent the letter with the PL etc. headed one of his articles: “The L-plate government”. Did people link my visit to Parliament House with the outcome of PL’s decision? Wow, what a grand thought. The newspaper article that Rebekah Devlin wrote about the Wed 13th press conference, mentioned about the occasional student on work experience walking into the room… What or who was she was referring to? My mind was tempted to go into overdrive again.
An entry in my diary on 3/3/02 sums up my feeling at the time:
“Well, if I am making all this up as part of my mental illness, then all I can say – I am having a ball.”
What was hurtful was that I could not share it with anyone, except my P/C. My older children were old enough to be embarrassed about my strange behaviour. They regarded me as a mental case. I had an answer for them. Add an L to mental, turn the syllables around and join the club of tall men.
There was a time when I felt so desperate for an answer to my emails or letters from anyone. Instead, I expected it to come through the media, newspaper headlines, Radio announcement or even TV programs. As an example here is one from TV Channel 7. I had watched the program “Learner” one Sunday afternoon for the first time. It was thrilling to see the instructor speak about his faith in God; at his church they sang the well known chorus ‘He is Lord’. I was so touched I immediately wrote this letter:
To Channel Seven, Adelaide dated 11/3/02
To whom it may concern
For the first time yesterday evening I was able to view “Learner”. I could really relate to the experiences of the driving instructor and examiner. Recently, like in your program, I had an 88-year-old German lady and her slightly younger husband renewing their licences. She was very good, his was another story. Your program really showed how it is.
The other point I commend you on is the inclusion of the instructor’s church attendance. Seeing the church, the service and the song that was sung struck a cord in my heart. You could have easily overlooked this fact and covered another aspect of the Sunday activities of the family. It was like a breath of fresh air.
Much of the media and academia is so anti-God and anti-church these days.
The headline in the paper next day spoke of “late fee for drivers”. Was I late to respond to channel seven’s TV program? The same issue of this paper had a smiling chief of Channel Seven with an article about a healthy, financial outlook. Deep down this was my prayer, my desire; to make a difference in people’s lives for good.
An entry in my diary reads: How will it go on and end? This morning the thought came to me – if I parallel Christ’s life, then I have to die! (Tell Isobel that!)
I had written diary, almost unbroken since 1966. Never had my thoughts been as weird as in the year 2002. Some thoughts were so outlandish; I did not even have the courage to express them in my diary.
Autobiography - Dieter Fischer
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves