Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver
I threw out three drafts for this post because they were grim to read, full as they were of pain and people suck. This is being mindblind. Although I’m ambivalent when I sit down, negative thoughts pour out when I relax into writing.
The thing is, if I write “silence punctuated by pain,” year after year, then that’s the story of my life. Yes, it’s hard to always find good. There are people in my life who scheme and connive to find new and interesting ways to hurt me. And there are others, near and dear, whom I hurt through choice or ignorance and inaction. It falls to me to seek out the good moments, then string them together until I can tell the story of a good life well lived.
This post starts with the closing lines of the poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver. It’s a poem Eadaoin uses to highlight that there’s no more meaning to life that what we assign, that this is it. There’s no happy hereafter waiting for us when we die. We come from the universe, and go back to it after we live out that one life. Nobody else in the world owes you goodness or happiness or joy! It’s up to each of us to make our own.
The best we can do is leave behind a world made stranger for us having lived in it.
Yes, 2016 was painful. I need to at least acknowledged that when hurt came around, it was me who’d sent some of it. I learned about theory of mind and consequences and pain and happiness in the hard ways. I’m better and more mature for it, but some of that sucked.
I failed when I tried to come up with an analogy for my relationship Garrett and Caira. Our whole situation is weird and nontraditional. It’s good enough for me to say that my two kids are the everything of my life.
We only get to talk a few times per month at best, in the dead of night. Garrett doesn’t have a great grasp of timezone differences yet. Calls seem to happens when he’s at his gradmother’s house, and then when it catches his fancy.
Garrett is a tiny introvert interested in virtual worlds and logic and technologies. He loves to show off what he builds in Minecraft, and to hang out with me on FaceTime while he plays games. It makes my heart ache, how like me he is.
Caira’s harder to ken because she never stands still, but I think she shows love in her own ways. When we played Minecraft together in the summer, it was Caira who left me a chestful of presents. Caira dislikes technology as much as Garrett loves it. She loves nature and animals and the whole natural world instead of gadgets. For her birthday I sent fossils from Strandhill that Eadaoin and I found while we walked the beach.
I’m proud of both of them. Although Garrett finds school difficult, he’s the son of smart parents, and I can feel his love of logic and order. I know he’ll shine later in life. Caira’s started her own YouTube channel where she tells stories and her own cartoons. She has a rich imagination for all that she’s shy on the outside, and it’s wonderful that she shares it.
“I was thinking we’ll all be out of here soon and likely never see the place again.”
“Does that make you sad?”
“Sad? Nonsense! Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.”
The three hardest lessons Eadaoin taught me were about people:
- First, that it’s up to me alone to recognise and stand against negative people in, not only my life, but the lives of my loved ones too. Ours is the world we make.
- Second, that people aren’t only vectors to hurt. Everyone is a mix of good and bad, some with more of one than the other. This means that people can also be vectors for happiness and positive new experiences.
- Third, to recognise that I am not only a witness to my life, but part of it too. I kept the mindset that I’m an observer or outsider, instead of someone with the power to direct outcomes.
But people. If time is the progression of events, then people are the progression of our lives: everyone makes everything happen for everyone else.
Tiny be mine Ginger
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
— The Lord of the Rings
Eadaoin and I toured (part) of the world in 2016. Wherever I went, Eadaoin was there, so it’s hard to talk about one without the other.
A bunch of us had a great dinner in June.
Last year started off with us acting edgy in a handball court at the end of a fantastic stay at The Twelve. We ate and drank and saw the aurora and walked a bleak silent beach on New Year’s Day. It was perfect.
February. Valentine’s Day. So look at me. I bought the card, brought the wine, picked up the chocolates and remembered the flowers, and forgot the forgot the fucking bottle opener. In my despair, I climbed Bray Head and looked down.
High tea at Powerscourt. The coffee at Powerscourt is shit; it tases like instant coffee out of a jar. You need to know this. Joanna Newsom at the Olympia headlined March. Then and now I described the concert as moving and beautiful. At the end of March I took the time to meditate on what Ireland means to me. If a country is a shared symbol, then what I explored what was my interpretation of those symbols.
It was at Strandhill in July when we climbed dunes like Arrakeen Fremen. The Atlantic views were magnigicent. From the peak of Knocknarea did we gaze down upon Sligo Bay from Knocknarea unto the gods themselves from Olympus. Then we came home and adopted a cat.
Threaded in and around these were my gym work. I completed the couch to 5k program, started a podcast and bought a FitBit. The sad part is that that I lost all my gains in the stress of the last few months. I dropped 10kg and built up decent muscle tone. That’s all gone now.
September opened on us in Spanish Point in Clare, where we were the hottest shit at her sister Maria’s wedding. And who could forget Brussels or Brugge in October, the selfsame trip where I wrote my two thousandth blog post!
Eadaoin and I had a talk about out relationship today while we as back and over to the local supermarket. Our conversation that began with a frustrating back-and-forth in the kitchen. My theory of mind doesn’t exist, and I’m blind to cues and context and body language. Eadaoin had to ask the same question in six or seven different ways before I got what what she wanted to know: what do I see in her?
Together, we’re like the Earth and Moon. We form a greater whole. She balances me out and fills in the blank. I’m logic. Eadaoin is compassion. Where I’m book smart and fact smart. She’s peoplesmart. I would diminish without her. I am grateful everyday that she’s here with me. We have great adventures together, and lately she was the fulcrum around which pivoted so much self-discovery.
I try to keep work out of my life, and my life out of work. This doesn’t always happen, but despite this I’m happy to say that I’ve hit my stride as a programmer. I write the codes that keep the sites alive, I’m good at it, and work satisfies.
2017 is a Prime Year!
Literally. The last six months served to open my eyes to what I can achieve when I put my head down and work. I had awesome holidays in Sligo and Brussels, turned my personal life (and head) around, and learned so damn much about myself. I know now that Eadaoin and I are capable of awesome things together.