Sunday 8 January 2017

Appreciate the darkness and give thanks for the light!

What now? What now for us, as we emerge from the blur and rush, to face once again the normality we so eagerly tried to escape over the last weeks?

How bleak is your midwinter?
Well, that’s pretty much up to you.

After last year it’d be so very easy to drift listlessly into the doldrums. Under Connacht’s low grey January skies it’s tempting to feel oppressed by humanity’s apparent lack of direction.

In the past I’ve often trodden that path. Having lived with depression throughout my life, I now make sure to consciously and truly appreciate the times when I am not being taunted by my Black Dog.

Life ain’t worth a pooper if you fail to learn. Today there are many things that could be better about my life, as well as the world in which I live, but right now I’m alone in the house, just me and the keyboard, and I give thanks for many things.

Thanks for this lovely house. Naturally we'd be happier to own our own home, but on the outskirts of Jakarta in 1985, I saw two children emerging from the three corrugated metal strips they called home.

A lean-to, tied together with scraps of rope, it was wedged inbetween the railway tracks and surrounded by hundreds of others.

The two little girls wore perfectly clean white shirts, and black skirts with pleats starched and ironed to a standard that would pass inspection at the Big House.

Immaculately-dressed children were popping out of tiny filthy wobbly sheds all over that shanty town. Living with neither plumbing nor electricity, those kids could all have starred in a Persil ad, yet the muddy puddled rusty ground beneath their feet festered with cholera.

So yes I give thanks. I could feel more secure, but oh my goodness we are so safe.

For 350 days of the year in the West of Ireland we will have sunshine and showers, in a temperature ranging between 10 and 20 degrees. The earth here does not quake. Fires the size of counties do not ravage this land. 

Yes, it’d be lovely if it was more sunny, but then you’d be wiping clean every grain of sugar you spilled by the kettle, because millions of ants would share that climate and your kitchen.

Of course I could do with another 500 quid a week, but if that meant I lost time to walk and stare then I’ll pass, thanks all the same.

In the past I’ve been crushed commuting on tube trains, stuck in miles of stationary traffic, twice a day, five days a week. While it’s great to have the dosh, there is value and then there is money.

Bloody easy for me to say, admittedly, with just myself and the Snapper to look after. If there was a house full of rug rats to feed, clothe and educate, I might not sound so glib. That dream did not come true for us, so we created another which included four legs and a wet nose.

I was unwell throughout the festivities, coughing and snotty in a particularly sexy way, so I was forced to surf it, rather than immersing myself in the joy and fun, but I was aware that they were present.

That’s all it takes: to know that the good is there.

Somewhere between the hokey old American schoolyard cry ‘Turn That Frown Upside Down’ and the relentless desire for positive thinking in New Age philosophy, there’s a comfy lumpy mattress of middle ground.

That’s where you’ll find me. Yes, I’ll be entertaining darkness and negative thoughts, because without them the positive become meaningless. My cough is a pain and I am allowed to moan about it a tiny bit, but I have access to healthcare, so I tend to shut up and feel lucky.

Before I condemn our species as rotten for voting Trump, I remind myself that two million more people voted for Hillary. Also, I’ve no doubt that many millions of Trump voters made their choice despite the bigotry he espoused, not because of it.

Violence is the voice of the unheard, and politically you can’t appear more violent than voting for the Donald.

Doubtless he will impact my life in some ways, and possibly harm the lives of many others, but down here at Charlie Central, the air still smells sweet off the mountains.

I need to understand the news, but won’t let it stop me embracing the glory of Connemara. When depression hits, it wipes beauty from my eyes. I will look at the hills I saw the day before and know that they are beautiful, yet feel unable to appreciate it, there and then.

So while my spirit allows me to smile, I refuse to let the bigotry inherent in Brexit unduly  bother me. Once again the unheard shouted loud, but my native country was and is split down the middle, so whatever your opinion, it’s far from unique.

Personally, I’m more concerned about desalination of the northern Atlantic. With the Arctic melt reaching cataclysmic proportions, the chances of losing our conveyor belt of warm coastal waters grow greater every day. Without that protection, we plunge instantly into Muscovite winter conditions, for which we are in no way prepared.

Yes, I’m worried about that, but hey, I’m going to take a break in a few minutes, stand on the back step, sipping tea, as I watch the finches and wagtails feasting on the birdseed I put out this morning.

I refuse to let last year put me off this one. Aware of the darkness out there, I’ll fortify myself with the goodness that surrounds us all.

©Charlie Adley


Ciaran Tierney said...

Lovely piece, Charlie. For some reason it didn't come up on my Facebook feed, so I'm glad to have stumbled across it now.

I think a lot of us feel the same way about Trump, Brexit, the economy, insecurity, etc, so a lot are facing into the new year with trepidation.

I was at a lovely gathering on December 31 and so many people seemed to have had a tough year in 2016.

Happy New Year.

Charlie Adley said...

Thanks Ciaran. As you know yourself, some pieces fall out of the ether. Happy New Year to you too mate.