Archive for the ‘Thought for the Day’ Category

More Humanist musings

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Time passes so quickly! As ever, the challenge is to live in the present. To  savour this moment. To be thankful for all we have and all we are. Being human, all too often we only appreciate things when we’ve lost them.  So enjoy this day. Count your blessings. All you have going for you. Stand back a bit and reflect. Breathe. That heart won’t tick forever. It’s later than you think, and all that. Health, our greatest wealth. The people in our lives. Be thankful too for yourself. I always liked the line from one of the psalms: ‘For the wonder of myself.’ Most of us need to consider that. For each life, ours included, is full of wonder. Sure, we’ve all made mistakes. But we’ve got a lot right too. Made more good decisions than poor ones. We’re survived. We’re reading this. We live. Hope lives. Life exudes all around us. Expel air. Breathe it in. You won’t always be able to do that. Heart ticking. Yours. Mine. For now. So, enjoy this moment.

Success and failure

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Success and failure are inescapable experiences of being human. They say that all political careers end in failure. Kipling warned us to regard both success and failure as impostors. Beckett told is to fail better the next time. In the Christian myth, the central character, Jesus, is humiliated, shamed and mocked on a cross, crucified as a common criminal, and probably naked: exposed as an abject failure. And the story goes that he cried out: ‘My god, my god, why have you abandoned me?’ Even his god-myth had imploded.
Rather than asking was someone a success or failure, or, more to the point, each human asking asking of ourselves ‘Am I a success or failure?’ it is perhaps wiser to accept that, in any authentic human experience, there will be both success and failure, often interconnected and even simultaneous.
And so as we reflect on personal experiences of failure, we may need to nudge ourselves to perceive perhaps hidden, or forgotten, strands of success. And in the dazzling glow of success, let’s not lose the run of ourselves and omit the undercurrent of failure.
We are human, first and foremost. Humans who succeed AND fail, who fail AND succeed. At a time of failure, pause a while and bring to mind ways in which you have succeeded. And in the heady rush of success, recall that it is transitory and built upon untold failures, each of which has prompted you closer to success.
But do not see yourself as ‘successful’ or ‘a failure’. Be human. Embrace success and failure. See the bigger picture. And, for now, accept the successes and failures of your life and take the next authentic step for you at this moment.


Thursday, January 17th, 2013

I recently caught on RTE Radio One an interview with Irish poet Dennis O’Driscoll. I’d never heard his work before and the interview finished with a recitation of his  extraordinary poem ‘Someone‘. It’s a remarkable poem, stunning, dramatic, arresting. It grabs you deceptively with its ordinary everyday words and revolutionizes one’s viewpoint on the ordinary, helping us to realize the great fragile transitory and fleeting magnificence of life. Like a funnel, we rethink our habitual awareness of the everyday, the things we take for granted – an erection, eating buttered toast, saluting the neighbours, listening to the weather forecast – and the poem transforms our awareness of the banal. Someone today is doing all those ordinary things for the last time. And becoming aware of that transforms our consciousness to live each moment – this moment – to the full.

Someone who is going about his ordinary business today is doing so for the very last time. Much of the genius of the poem is that that one word – Someone – is imbued with new meaning and that single word evokes the whole poem and its simple yet profound wisdom.

Do it today!

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Today is all we’ve got. The past is gone and we may not have a future. All we ever have is now. This moment. Let’s live in this moment. I’m thankful for this fleeting second. That I exist. That I live. That I breathe. That I express. I’m thankful for music and birdsong, for language and technology, for my wife and son and daughter. I’m grateful for this moment, for this transitory opportunity to ground myself and come into the present. Today is full of possibility. Today, we can create. We can express. We choose. We decide. We create ourselves anew. We are masters of our fate. We choose our thoughts and, so choosing, make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. Let us also be thankful for ourselves, and not be shy about it. Let us be ourselves today. Be different. Imagine if you had died already (death will come far quicker than any of us realize) and you were given an opportunity to come back and live just one more day. What would you do? Do it today!


Thursday, September 8th, 2011

What is it about music that takes us places? It operates on us, eases us, connects. It works at the level of mood, transforming us, lifting us, telling us we’re not alone. It touches feelings, assures us of continuity. Reminds us of people, gets us right back there. It captures us. It’s a reservoir of memory, feeling, time. The predictability of a melody maybe assures us, or fools us, of the comfort of the familiar. Dillon reigns supreme. Van Morrison is way up there too. U2. And the Beatles. And classical music.

Now, the open moment

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Today is all we’ve got, folks. This minute. This second, in fact. Breathe in. Exhale. Attend to your breath. Still alive then, eh? It beats the alternative. A life can change in an hour. Stand ready. Prepare. Choose to do what you want to do. Life is too fleeting to do anything else, even when the pressure may be on from whatever quarter. This moment. Live it. Now. What time is it? Don’t look at your watch. The time is now. Only now. This day. This moment. Grasp your chance. Don’t let it slip away. In this moment, what do you want to do? I want to write. To express. To manifest myself. To be me. For too many years of my life I lived by other people’s dogmas. I lived by other people’s thoughts. I accepted other people’s judgements, as if they were mine. But they were not. I’m unlearning all that, daily. Pushing 50, I still discover how to think for myself, to choose alone. To be me.

Alcoholic households and the Irish body politic

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Anyone unfortunate enough to know what it is like to live with an alcoholic might see a parallel between coping with the insanity of addiction and the dysfunctional Irish political system. In an alcoholic household, the alcoholic is often the last person to admit there is a problem. He or she engages in grandiose thinking. They fail to listen. They act unreasonably. Their behaviour affects the entire household. They fool themselves. They bully. They are unaccountable. They are remarkably self-forgiving. While I am explicitly not stating nor suggesting nor implying that any member of Government is an alcoholic, the parallels are striking. The family is thrown into dysfunction and nobody knows from day to day what will happen next. The only predictable thing is that nothing can be predicted. Eventually, something like sanity is restored when healthy (non-addicted) family members say ‘Enough is enough. We’re not taking this anymore.’  They detach from the alcoholic and sanity can be restored.

Chile miners

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

The rescue of those Chile miners sent a shiver up my back. Sometimes, hope prevails. And no victory was every yet won in the absence of hope. This day, hope that your work will bear good fruit. Fight the good fight. Persevere. Live this day, this moment, to the full. Believe in yourself. And in a harmony in the universe which sometimes delivers us from the very depths of the earth.

Keep Going!

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Life is short

It can be sweet

So keep going my friend

Bum off seat!


Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I have a labyrinth in my garden. Unlike a maze, there is no frustration in walking it. There are no cul de sacs. Walking the labyrinth is very interesting when done with a degree of self-awareness. Do I spend my time looking at the weeds? How do I feel when the pathway leads me out and seemingly further away from my goal of arriving at the centre of the circle?

Each turning point tells a tale. What matters, what matters always, is to keep going. To take the next step. Turning around and exiting it without having completed it is not an option. The first time I ever walked a labyrinth I was struck that at one point, having walked for ages, I returned to a point only inches away from where I had started out from. As the crow flies, I was just as far away from my goal of arriving in the centre. However, the lesson for me that day was that while I seemed as far away in fact I had walked a long way and simply by taking the next step I would arrive before long at my goal.

Recently when I walked it again I was struck by the confusion one can feel in the middle of the pathway. One has been walking a long time and one still seems far from home. From this vantage point one can survey the varied directions one has come, forth and back, back and forth, turning points here, there and everywhere. It isn’t clear when I might arrive at my goal nor is it apparent if the route I have taken was walked as well as I might. There’s a sense of displacement. The is no guarantee of success. Yet, unless I keel over with a heart attack I have no intention of doing other than to proceed.

Walking a labyrinth can be a profound learning experience. Some might call it a spiritual experience. It is often a metaphor for how one treads through life. Lessons are to be learned, easily, for free. It’s as simle as putting one step in front of the other…