I got a letter from the bank the other day that offered me all sorts of concessions on the grounds that I was three years older than I actually am.
In that moment, I saw with the clearest of clear vision that I wanted to hold onto those years, no matter how great the concessions.
I pretty much ran to the bank and asked them to give me back my time. The official with whom I was dealing was about half my age and, while very polite, clearly didn’t see the impact that being robbed of three years has the older one gets.
She asked me if I wanted the letter back and it felt like the time I was asked if I wanted my gallstone to put on the mantlepiece.
Empty handed, yet shed of years, I danced home and vowed to make the very, very most of those precious three years.
Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.
It’s seven years ago tonight that I sent that text to the kind woman who was sitting with Mother in hospital. It read: Say ‘Goodnight Irene’ from me.
That’s how we always said ‘Goodnight,’ and it didn’t surprise me to hear later that Mother, who had suffered a severe stroke four days before, definitely responded when the message was read to her and that she then settled and passed away peacefully.
Seven years is a long time in some respects and no time in others. Mother’s presence has remained constant throughout as I do even the most mundane things like washing up. Most of all, though, she is with me when I’m lost in nature; nature that she loved and appreciated more than anyone else I’ve ever met.
What’s changed in the seven years is how I see her passing. All the horribleness of being cooped up in hospital has been swept away by the intervening storms and now it’s like she strolled down a May time path festooned with a blaze of nature’s colours.
These are the paths that she craved from her childhood growing up on a farm; paths that she walked with us when we were kids, teaching us about trees, flowers, wildlife; paths that she journeyed in her memory when failing health held her back.
So many paths come to mind but this one in our beloved Mount Congreve seems just right as I think of her now with a loving smile:
I’m a bit of a punctuality freak so find myself with a lot of waiting time in all sorts of different contexts.
I’ve learned over the years that there is an art involved in putting waiting time to good use.
The thing is that one person’s idea of ‘good use’ could be another’s perception of waste.
‘Good use’ of waiting time, for me, includes: deep breathing; reciting favourite lines of poetry to myself; listening to the radio; jotting down ideas for blog posts; observing nature.
If I think about waiting time in my youth, I always hear the tick-tock of the big wooden clock that lived in the kitchen. Each second made its mark then and each second should make its mark now even if the clocks no longer tick out loud.
My late father was a stickler for correct grammar and for consulting the dictionary, if in any doubt. Given all this, it was a source of fascination to me that he never used the phrase ‘somewhere else.’ Instead, he would say ‘some other where.’
Some other where has deep meanings for me (and I think I can see now why Dad used it.)
The time that some other where comes into play for me most is around sunset when it’s dark and I’m pushing out the boundaries in terms of not being home. You know that extra half an hour or three quarters of an hour when they’d be expecting you back and have just started to wonder if the car has conked out or if Puppy Stan has gone missing or … It’s not quite time to start trying to phone but they know that the phone is probably on Silent anyway!
Well, the some other where is invariably on a beach wave-gazing; or high up on the cliffs cloud-gazing. Some other where is a timeless place; a place of oneness with nature; a place where the air is salty. It’s also a place where you lose yourself; you move so far into reality that you are experiencing rather than rationalising. Some other where is intensely peaceful; it loves shapes, shadows and silhouettes and it can see right through darkness to a where that’s neither here not there, just beyond or in-between.
This is how my some other where has been looking in the last little while:
The relationship between blogging and time is a source of fascination to me and I often wonder how other bloggers carve out the time to blog.
I know I’ve pretty much dumped television since starting to blog (not that television was ever a huge part of my life) and I’d have to say that I tend to read fewer novels now than I did before the blog came into play. I’m not altogether sure if that drop off in novel reading was caused by blogging or just happened in and around the same time.
Obviously, there are lots of ways to find time, including getting up earlier or staying up later.
But, when it comes to blogging, the whole issue of time seems to turn itself upside-down and inside-out as the blogging world never sleeps. I rather like logging on in the early hours of the morning here in Ireland and seeing California, for example, in full swing.
There’s also the little matter of the way time seems to go away or not be part of the blogging process as one gets immersed.
I often wonder when other bloggers blog ~ is it at a set time? And how is it that some bloggers are so much on the ball in relation to answering comments and responding to posts?
The time that these questions hit me most is when I’m walking around the block with Puppy Stan in the evenings and I see televisions flickering in the corners of sitting-rooms.
Yes, televisions are still a key part of sitting-rooms in Ireland!
So, I’d love to know about your ‘blogging time.’ Curiosity is getting the better of me!
The changing of the clocks to Winter-time fills me with absolute dread every year as all I can see lying ahead is dull, dank, dark, dismality. This year was no exception and I basically bid a fond farewell to all colour last Saturday afternoon with the clocks set to fall back at 2am on Sunday morning.
The week that has unfolded has shocked me with the colour that has danced on the beaches in and around me here in Tramore.
It all started at sunrise on Sunday morning when I went down to the beach in a state of total confusion about what time it really was:
Each day has brought moments of pure sensual bliss,
and absolute hope:
I hope your week has given you good reason to look forward and to see every colour, including black, as having a beauty all of its own.
I love the idea of our ‘leap second’ tonight. Time fascinates me ~ how it can slow down and speed up in such amazing ways.
Some of our radio presenters here in Ireland were suggesting today that a second is no big deal and were questioning what all the fuss is about.
There mere mention of seconds brings me back to the old wooden kitchen clock with the very loud tick-tock that was a part of my growing up. So many moments spent watching the second hand move ~ moments of wild anticipation as well as angst.
And, of course, a second is like an age when it comes to games like tennis. Hitting the ball that second earlier can make such a difference as can reacting and getting moving a split second sooner to a perfect drop-shot.
How about the zillion thoughts that can flash through one’s mind in a single second when senses are heightened. Or, the second that one first meets the eyes of a person who is to play a huge role in one’s life.
Seconds that have passed are gone forever and so much can be done in a single second. The click of a camera, for example, capturing a moment forever.
Here’s the extra photo that I seized tonight. I know that this lovely marigold in my rockery will never look quite the same again:
Economics has never been my favourite subject and I can’t say that I have brought much of what I studied of it in College into my everyday life. However, the simple, yet profound, concept of Opportunity Cost has never left me.
Yesterday, as I walked along the Coastal Path in Dunmore East here in Co. Waterford, I found myself thinking about it yet again:
Opportunity Costs: The loss of other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
In particular, I got to thinking about the extent to which social media has become such an integral part of life and of the endless hours one can spend on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and so many more.
I wondered about the percentage of people who will look back on their lives knowing that their end is near and delight in memories of time spent reading their timelines.
No doubt some people may be Facebooking or Tweeting with their last grain of energy but I suspect that Social Media won’t even enter the minds of the vast majority.
Yes, I would much prefer to be out walking along the cliffs in Dunmore East, soaking up the sun, taking time to touch the Sea Pinks, watch the seagulls gliding, gaze across at Hook Head Lighthouse, be enraptured by the layers and layers of colour, scent, texture … than living a life or a half life through social media.
I’d certainly much prefer to depart this earth to a memory of swaying Sea Pinks than of timelines scrolling on and on and …..
Thoughts of the unfolding of years are among the Decemebery things that come round every year for me like berried holly and fresh mistletoe.
As I was out walking yesterday, I was thinking of how so much of own’s life can be encapsulated by thinking of the defining events, images, memories associated with particular years in each decade.
This brought me to:
1964 ~ I was seven and we had just moved to Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. That was a whole new adventure and it was the last year in which all five of us (Mother, Dad and us three kids) were together as a family as my sister headed off to boarding school in 1965. Being insulated by a warm, warm family is what stands out most as well as the arrival of our very first television in time for Christmas.
1974: I did my Leaving Certificate in 1974 by which time we were living in Drogheda, Co. Louth. It was a year of turmoil in quite a lot of ways and the Troubles in Northern Ireland were a huge worry.
I had placed all my hopes on pursuing a career in tennis but a serious wrist injury put all that on hold. I had deferred taking up a university place in the hope that summer surgery would rectify the problem but by the December it was clear that a career in tennis was out of the question. That was the year I began learning to drive and it was also the year that my sister and I were re-united as she came back ‘home’ to teach in the school that I had just left. It was all a bit of a social whirl with big sis as ‘chaperone!’
The song I played over and over in 1974 was this one:
1984: This was a year in which I was still reeling from the death from cancer of my long-time boyfriend from cancer in 1981.
I was ensconced in Trinity College, where I had embarked on a PhD on the experiences of people with physical disabilities in Ireland and I was also very busy working as a researcher on an exciting EU project in the Midlands about the integration of people with disabilities into society.
Tennis was back on the agenda and I simply adored being able to compete again after all the missed years.
1994: Undoubtedly the highlight of 1994 was pregnancy and anticipation of motherhood.
That was a year in which I was working in two areas I love: teaching and research and was able to work from home base here in Tramore.
2004: This marked the last year that my parents were in good health but they loved spending time with our son, Harry, who was very close to both of them from the moment he was born.
This was a time of major juggling between work and ferrying 9-year old Harry to all sorts of sporting activities.
A major highlight of 2004 was Waterford’s victory in what is considered to be the greatest Munster Hurling Final of all time:
It’s a year I very much associate with my father’s photography and being down in my parents house hearing about their outings to places here in Co. Waterford which they adored.
2014 ….. Right now, it’s hard to focus on highlights of 2014 but I certainly associate it with an ever-increasing love of Co. Waterford, nature, the ocean, blogging, poetry and a whole new adventure into the world of carpets.