Archive for February, 2012

The big Five-O

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

AS the big Five-O looms and gets closer and closer – the half-century – I cannot believe the computation of years. How could it be? Eighteen years living at home, a student until my late twenties, five years’ teaching, seventeen years working as a writer,  journalist and editor. Meeting my wife, the love of my life; fathering our children – the eldest now as tall (or could he be taller?) as me. The house built, the books written, the trees planted. The jobs done: Irish Times columnist, managing editor for Ireland of a publishers, chair of Irish PEN. The high points, the low points; the joys and the sorrows.

Our life tasks change. Time is more precious. Love alone makes sense of it all.

I’ve finished my memoir. Hardest thing I’ve ever written. And it was like a different person writing it, looking back at a younger self. I’ve the distance of age now to laugh at the young man’s follies and delusions. But it was so difficult going back there, revisiting insights, transitions, decisions delayed, decisions taken. Fear and risk at play in me.

Looking back, I saw the patterns, the traps, the seeming security and the terror of taking a risk confident only in my raw gut and trusting it, and outgrowing the need for others to agree or confirm or verify.

I’m writing a play. And I’ve written a short story.

What would I do if I’d only a year to live? Or a month? Or one day? I know I’d spend some of it writing.