Ireland is a small place where most people are separated by just 3 degrees, i.e. ; you know someone who knows someone who knows Enda Kenny , or just about anybody else in the country. This is a fantastic attribute for the country and lends itself to the relaxed friendly nature most Irish people tend to have .
There is a downside however, which is the fact that we, as a nation are predisposed to running en masse with whatever ideology takes root at any particular time. Currently there are two, the ever present weather (people who normally only have rain to complain about now have snow and ice to add to the list ) and the recession ( ours is much worse than anybody elses and we’re all going to be homeless, starving and naked by the end of the week ). We are friendly and chatty by nature and do not want to offend and this is why when one person starts the ball rolling with how bad everything is , nobody wants to make them feel bad by disagreeing and thus we go along and fan the flames into a huge frenzy as everything is compounded and made to look a lot worse than it really is .
One Friday night Eamonn Dunphy , with a mixture of green room beverages , childhood reminiscing and genuine empathy , shed tears on the Late Late show for people who had lost their jobs ..
By Saturday my silver lining had a massive rip in it and the grey cloud below was about to take over .
Then yesterday afternoon I was jolted back into the reality of what life really is about .
I had failed to get the Sunday Independent for my little oasis from ‘normal’ news that is John Mastersons little article each week , and was thus bombarded once again with the ‘R’ word .
Around 4 pm Ciara was trying to get some of her own work done and I decided to take the girls off for a while . With no fixed destination I found myself on the road to the cemetery where my Father is buried . He passed away seven months ago and I sometimes wonder if I visit him more now than when he was alive .
As I walked into the small cemetery at the side of the small country church I was holding 18 month old Kate’s hand as she wobbled along and Laura ( just 4 ) was holding her other hand . Then Laura turned to me and looked up with her big innocent bluey grey eyes and asked ‘ Dad , is this Heaven ? ‘
‘ No pet ,…………………………… but it’s pretty close by ‘
‘ Where is it then ? ‘
‘ Up there in the sky , pet ‘
‘ How will Johnny ( she always likes to call people by their first names ) get back down from Heaven when his back is better ? ‘
‘ I don’t know pet , but we can always come out here if we want to talk to him ‘
We stood there , at the graveside and they were both remarkably quiet . I was reminded of something that my father had mentioned in his last few days . He said that he would miss not being there for their communions and confirmations . I’ll miss him not being there too .
Then , as we were leaving Laura looked up into the sky and saw the lights of the space station as it was getting duskish ,and said ;
‘ Look , Dad , Johnny is after turning on the light so that we can wave bye bye to him .’
With that she gave a big wave and shouted ‘ Bye Johnny ‘ and her little sister waved too .
As we drove back home my mind was working overtime . I was thinking about all of the things that I have to be thank-full for . Family and friends will always be number one . The fact that like many who read this I can walk , run or hop up on a bike and go for a cycle .
Being able to see the mountains and valleys all around , and the cars that might pull out in front of you .
Being able to hear the sound of the sea whilst cycling down the Coast road , or the silence of the forest when mountain biking .
Being able to taste the salt in the air on the coast or that can of coke after 4 hours training with one to go .
Being able to feel the vibration of the rough roads and then the smoothness of the county Waterford tarmac .
Being able to speak to the rest of the lads in a group or read stories to the kids at bedtime .
Take note that none of the above cost hardly anything at all .
Sometimes I like to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and a pen to write a list of 20 things that I would like to be , do or have . Everything on the list has to be something for me , my family or friends or something that is good for other people . Nothing on the list can be there to impress others . It is always very surprising how achievable every item on the list can be when mixed with a bit of imagination .
Here is an example ;
A Ferrari – I like cars – a lot , and would love to own a Ferrari , but I don’t have a few hundred grand kicking about so here is a way around this . If I only want the Ferrari for myself , and not to impress a few taxi drivers who might be parked up on O’Connell street on a Saturday night , the real reason will be to really experience the thrill of driving one flat out . The 100 kph speed limit would knock that on the head so if I actually bought one I’d probably be pretty frustrated . I would probably only get to drive it a few times per year and would loose the price of a small house in depreciation . The solution is to pay a couple of hundred pounds and go to a racetrack in England where I could learn how to drive one properly and get the real sense of speed and excitement on a proper racetrack , where the car was really designed to be driven .
So , things really aren’t so bad after all . Life is actually great if we take the time to stop and look around and unlike any other time in history , most of us can actually do pretty much anything we could wish for using a little imagination . Now , there really is a lot more to life than the recession !