This quote from Oscar Wilde is painted on an old wall on a hilly street near where I often park in Waterford City.
The first time I saw it, I only glimpsed the top two lines as there was a car blocking the rest of it. It certainly captured my attention and every single time I see it now, it stays with me for hours and hours.
I reckon there’s a lot of truth in it and I’m beginning to think that the ‘busy, busy, busy’ approach to life which is so dominant in our society is playing a huge role in dragging people away from living to existing.
I know that there are some people who are genuinely busy and I would count many working parents of three or four young kids as probably being among the most genuinely busy people out there.
For so many other people, it seems that ‘being busy’ has become the ‘in’ way to be. But what exactly are people so busy doing? Does spending hours on SM keeping inboxes under control count? Or what about rushing to the gym to fight obesity after days of driving from pillar to post and avoiding stairs?
Having seen that stark ‘mural’ again today, I wondered about all the ‘stuff’ that we do that is surplus to requirements~ everything from fussing about making fashion statements to giving a toss about the colour of door handles (and mark my words, some people are obsessed with the colour of door handles.)
Christmas really turns up the ‘busy,’ ‘busy’ volume. Is there sense or reason to it all? I think not and prefer to live each day rather than existing in a busy bubble that is so limiting in terms of creativity, imagination and most of all meaningful connections with those we love and who love us.
Perhaps this is a good moment to pause and take a good, long look at Oscar Wilde’s quote. Remember we only have one life and it’s there to be lived. Maybe some would argue that being busy is the way to live but I just wonder how many of the activities that are running people ragged are ones that they will look back on as having been worthwhile, useful … time well spent.
“One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.”
It all started the other day when I read this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche and posted it here. I got to the quote because my head was bubbling and, I suppose, you could say chaotic. That shortest of short posts settled me as blogging so often does.
But, when you started to comment, dear friends, I found myself moving from thoughts of chaos to dancing stars and all they might entail.
Yes, dancing stars like Michael Flatley spring to mind and all the other greats that I should know about but don’t (yet).
Dancing stars have evoked thoughts of many, many things over the last few days.
The glistening teeth of Seve Ballesteros when I saw lusted after him at The Irish Open in Mount Juliet some years back
Lying on my parent’s bed as a kid ‘helping’ my Mother to get ready to go out for an evening and running my fingers along her string of pearls
Watching Richard Clayderman’s hands caressing the keys of a grand piano at the RDS in Dublin
Star-gazing in the depths of February in 2009 when son Harry and I spent a week in a remote little cottage on the Burren in Co. Clare
Playing mixed doubles at the St. Anne’s Open Tennis Week in Waterford and having an unexpected meeting with bright, bright stars when I failed to get out of the way of my partner’s brilliant first serve!
This great quote from Oscar Wilde:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars
Yesterday, I was struck by discovering that November 3o was a highly significant date in the lives of two of the world’s most quoted people: Mark Twain, who was born on November 30 in 1835 and Oscar Wilde, who died on November 30 in 1900.
You might well wonder what all this has to do with the National Gallery of Ireland and the Turner Exhibition which takes place there every January.
Well, for me, the link between all three is my late father. He absolutely loved quick wit and always had a few books of ‘quotable quotes’ close at hand. The tougher the situation, the more he leaned into these books to garner a chuckle or nugget of inspiration.
I remember well sitting by his hospital bed in Coronary Care waiting for him to wake up. I was flicking through one of his ‘old companions’ and found myself totally captivated by the quotes that he had marked. He woke to find me with a big smile on my face and wanted to know what was so funny. I began reading some of the quotes to him and soon we were both laughing with sufficient gusto to entice a nurse over to us. Her words: ‘ You two know how to enjoy yourselves ~ would you like a cup of tea?’ Always one with a sweet tooth, Father seized his moment and said: ‘ Oh, tea would be lovely especially with a few chocolate biscuits!’ The tea and biscuits arrived in jig time!
So, yesterday on learning it was Mark Twain’s birthday, I went to one of Father’s trusty books of quotable quotes and had a look to see what quotes he had earmarked. This was the one that jumped out at me:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
( Mark Twain)
This quote immediately brought the paintings of J.M.W. Turner into my mind and how Father had introduced me to the January Exhibition of Turner’s work at the National Gallery of Ireland. What an antidote to post-Christmas blues! I’m already planning January’s trip ~ and yes, I will Explore, Dream and Discover! Discover the National Gallery of Ireland and its Collections
Autumn is generally seen as a time when both the days and year are closing in. If we view life in seasonal terms, the Autumn of life is a time when the innocence of childhood and the colourful exuberance of young adulthood are behind us but we have both energy and a wealth of experience with which to enjoy life. There is a danger, though, that the mind can run ahead towards winter and the inevitable ending of our time.
One of the wonders of Autumn, for me, can be found in woodlands as night is falling. Last evening, I was walking in Newtown Wood, which is just outside Tramore in Co. Waterford. It was getting dark and I was mesmerised by the way in which the shedding trees were allowing the last moments of daylight to pour down on the carpetted woodland floor.
Looking upwards, the undressing trees where revealing their magnificent shapes with wondrous and powerful clarity. The patterns that were presented to me in this natural movie were infinitely intricate and totally convinced me that Autumn is a time which has endless possibilities and openings that we may never have even contemplated before.
The following lines from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde, which I first learned in the early Summer of my life, came flooding back like the stream that was gushing through Newtown Wood to meet the sea:
I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky