Friday 9 March 2007

Oil those noisy human hinges with flashes of bright light!

poodlesAre there two more joyous words in the English language than 'Thank you'?
We've all been in the situation wherein you've given a child a present, and they just turn and walk away, leaving you hanging, waiting for the magic words, but in those situations it is easy to settle for blaming the parents.
Ah yes, they never bothered to teach their kids manners. What a shame, tut tut.
If children have an excuse, adults have none, and although I am only about nine months late, I'd like to say 'Thank you' to someone right now.
'Twas a hot sunny Summer morning, and I had arrived back from a shopping expedition to see two clear parking spaces near my home.
However, after unloading my bags and dropping them into the house, I drove my car around the corner to find that someone had parked their car in such a way as to take up both spaces, and I was not pleased.
Stubborn to the last, and on occasion indomitably male, I tried to squeeze my car into the space and failed, and tried again and failed again. During this process, as if I had drunk of a magic potion, I metamorphosed into my own personal Mr. Hyde, a.k.a. Grumpy Bear From Hell.
On one of my pointless reversing runs, I spotted a woman walking her dogs toward to small park just over the road.
Evidently she was the driver of the offending car. Maybe I could just go over and have a word with her.
Leaving my car obnoxiously double-parked, I walked into the park, and approached the lady in question, asking if she would mind moving her car a bit, so that two cars might park where now one occupied two spaces.
If I recall correctly, she had an English accent (but if not, please take no offense) and immediately headed back out of the park, and over the road, to do as I had asked.
Following her, I raised my arm, offering to hold her two little white poodles' leads, but she didn't see my gesture.
Leaving me feeling increasingly embarrassed, she opened the back door of her Skoda, encouraged both of her little white poodles to jump in (they were not best pleased, because they thought their walk was over almost before it had begun!), and moved her car the requisite few metres. As I climbed into my car to move it out of the centre of the road, I saw her open the back door of her car again, encourage her by now somewhat bewildered little white poodles to jump out once more, and head again towards the park.
By the time I had parked my car the lady was off away, and the only opportunity I had to thank her entailed walking over to her in the park.
After some quick reflection, I decided that should she once more see me heading towards her, she might have cause to fear what came next.
So I walked home, grateful for the polite calm way she dealt with the situation, and feeling guilty that what I thought would be a pretty easy task had turned out to be quite a time-consuming laborious effort for her.
But most of all I felt bad because I hadn't thanked her. The fact that that feeling remains now, three seasons down the road, serves only to show me how powerful is the need for thanks.
Displays of gentle heartfelt gratitude are the sunbeams of the human spirit. We are assaulted every day with an onslaught of news, images and sounds that impose upon us the notion that we, the Human Race, are a terrible beast. We wage war, murder, rape and abuse. We steal, spit, hit and maim.
Yes we do. But also, at the same time, we are a gentle, loving, caring and generous species.
Just as the desire to say thanks to that woman lingers, so too I find tiny clippings on my desk; yellowing snippets torn from newspapers, that touch a cord, twang my strings in a good way.
Two of them were actually taken from this Noble Rag. The first comes from our Lost and Found section, many moons ago. Somebody had gone to the trouble of taking out an advert to announce that they had found a pearl necklace on a Galway Street on a Saturday afternoon, reply to box number blah blah blah.
It makes me stop and think. Yes, we are a vicious mean and nasty bunch of people a lot of the time, but somebody somewhere has a love of their fellows, a love big enough to try to return a pearl necklace to a complete stranger.
In the same vein, a news story weeks ago reported how Louise Dunne from Co. Down was overwhelmed and delighted to receive in the post the wallet she had lost whilst visiting Galway to celebrate a hen night.
"There was a considerable amount of cash in my purse, as well as credit cards, cheques and a lot of personal stuff... the Garda who was dealing with it sent my purse back to me by recorded delivery totally intact. There was nothing taken from it."
Hooray for Galwegians! Yippee for humanity!
We are not all bad. Indeed, far from it. Just like yer Grannie used to say, it's the rusty hinge that makes the most noise. Speaking as one of the planet's most flaky red and decrepit of oxidised hinges, I know full well I often create an unholy racket with all my creaking, moaning and squeaking, but also I appreciate these smallest flashes of the brightest light, and take solace, comfort and hope from these well-oiled sweetly silent slivers of humanity.
As a species we are nothing but a collection of infinitely variable personalities. Regular readers will forgive me for once more reciting my Four Effs Of Humanity: Freaked-out; Fucked-up; Fallible; Fantastic. We truly are all of the above.
The sooner we reconcile all of our parts into one accepting whole, the better, for when that happens we may realise that, in the context of the Universe and our own common mortality, it is a mistake to focus too long on the struggles of 'good' and 'bad'; unimportant whether we believe our spiritual Glass of Life to be half full or half empty.
Only when we understand that the glass itself is beautiful will we rest happy in it.

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