Archive for the ‘Thought for the Day’ Category

Irish PEN

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I was asked to become chair of Irish PEN, the writers’ association affiliated to international PEN. Humbled and honoured by this trust, I have accepted the voluntary role depending, as I must, on the support of many.

Stepping up to the plate is a phrase that means more and more to me. I hope that I do a good enough job.

Also during the past week I completed the first full draft of my new book. It is gestating now in the bottom of a filing cabinet for a week before I take it out again to do the second complete draft. This is a book that has been in the making for twenty years. Finally proceeding towards its completion is another moment of ‘stepping up to the plate’.

Leaving safety

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Taking a risk is what keeps us alive. Leaping – leaving behind the familiar – may not come natural to us. But a wise guy I know told me that he never met anyone who regretted making life-changing decisions such as moving from one job to another, one career to another, when it was only fear which kept them where they were.

I am fascinated by the process of decision-making in such situations. What keeps someone in an unsatisfying situation for years? The fear of making a mistake? The fear of the unknown? The fear that faraway hills are green and they will be just as dissatisfied elsewhere? It can be easier to stay and complain than to take the leap of faith in oneself, take responsibility for one’s own life and head into the unknown. It can be hard to believe that security is only real when it relies on oneself. Giving up the security of a role, income, etc. often leads to excitement, adventure, an expansion of consciousness and a life better lived.

‘Time, gentlemen, time’  as they may cry in pubs when it is time to clear the premises. Knowing the time to go, to move on, to leap into the dark.

Having lept, of course, things will not necessarily fall into place right away. You have left behind one synthesis for another – but the other may still be barely born. Financially you may take a hit – after all isn’t it that which so often keeps us in dissatisfying situations to begin with. But remember your resolution: if you only had a short time to live, you wouldn’t have spent it doing what you were doing. So do now what you want to do, see, explore, be, achieve before you die. Today is the day for that.

You have stepped up to the plate. You have risked failure. Whether you succeed or not doesn’t matter in the end. What matters is that you are alive. You have leapt. You have trusted yourself and the universe.

Creation can be a messy thing. Form takes a while to take shape. The world wasn’t built in a day. But create. Create something true and beautiful and worthwhile and fun. Dance. Express. Sing. Write. Focus on what you want. We’ll be pushing up daisies sooner than we think. Laugh. Detach. Be thankful.

The greatest omission in life is to risk nothing

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

“The greatest omission in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing gets nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering, pain and sorrow, but he does not learn, grow, live, or love. He is only a slave – chained by safety – locked away by fear. Only a person who is willing to risk, not knowing the results, is alive.”

I came across that quote for the first time this morning on the web. Does anyone know who first said it?

celibacy is not a higher path

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Celibacy is not a higher path, even though that is often the line people pick up from the Church. You might ask: if it isn’t a higher path, a holier way, why would anyone in their right mind choose it? But it isn’t a ‘higher path’. Why did the Church teach in the past that sex was always sinful? It did in the past. Even within marriage. And why did women who gave birth have to be ‘churched’ before they could go back to Mass? And did I miss it but has the Church ever apologised for the negativity it taught about sex?

Sex and priests

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I wonder why the Church considered that priests couldn’t be married. Especially given that they were permitted to marry for a greater part of the history of the Church than the history of compulsory celibacy. Is it all to do with control? And preserving Church monies?


Monday, July 12th, 2010

Sex is a good thing. I wonder why the Church frowned upon it so much through the ages. Why celibacy was deemed a higher path than marriage. What nonsense!

be thankful

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Pause awhile today – now – to be thankful for all you have and all you are. You are magnificent. Your existence is a work of art, a triumph of evolution, a significant moment of creation. Breathe and realize your breath is transitory. A day will come far sooner than you expect when breath will not be possible. This day, you live. Rejoice in that. Think of the film ‘A Wonderful Life’. Know it. For it is a wonderful life. And no matter what tribulations may come our way, life beats the alternative. You’ll be six foot under for long enough. So enjoy this second, this moment of consciousness, this fleeting thing called life. Revel in it. Breathe it in. Delight in it.

the open door

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

The Killers’ marvellous song Human has a line: ‘sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door.’ It’s a magnificent truth about the human condition. We do not know what lies behind the door. Is it opportunity or disaster? Freedom or enslavement? Leaving behind the familiar is always scary, like the baby in the womb. Yet, had we not gone through that open door our home in the womb would have killed us. Beyond the door lies a world unknown. No wonder we can get nervous. It’s a powerful image! A great truth about the human condition.

Today is the day

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

I hear birds singing. There are blue skies outside. I’m enjoying the world cup. I’m healthy and happy, as is my missus and kids. Life is good. I’m growing, changing, learning. A mountain I decided to climb seemed daunting but, surprisingly, is proving simpler than I thought. Doors open. People are helpful. Things fall into place.

I saw a fox in our front garden yesterday evening, just after the Brazil v Chile game. Small, brown, cheeky, bushy-tailed.

Face your fears. Feel the fear and do it anyway, as Susan Jeffers’ famous book advises. Take a chance. Live from your gut. Do what you were born to do. Like Maradona. Celebrate this day. I can’t believe that the 1990 World Cup is 20 years ago! If feels like yesterday! Time is galloping. Time. Tempus fugit.

Looking back on my life, whenever I made a really good decision, I was often triggered into action by the realisation that time waits for no man. That time is flying. That the time to do what you want to do is today. Tomorrow is the adverb of the defeated. Do today, do now, what you want to do. Seize the day! Enjoy this day. Carpe diem!

Father’s Day

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Being a Dad: the Top 10 Problems and Solutions

By Joe Armstrong

Problem No. 1: Time If you leave home before the kids are up in the morning and crawl home knackered when they’re in bed, it doesn’t take a genius to twig that time is your big problem. Tell me what you spend your time on and I’ll tell you what you love. Spend no time with your kids and you love ‘em? Go figure.

Solution: If you can’t find time for your children, you’re too busy or in the wrong job. The greatest gift you can give them is your time and attention. Make time! They’ll have grown and left the nest before you know it. Now is the time to laugh, relax and do stuff together.

Problem No. 2: Listening Listening is a learned skill. It is different to hearing. With hearing you react to the words. With listening you’re attentive to the person and feelings behind the words. Asking questions isn’t listening! Giving out isn’t listening. Watching telly isn’t listening to your kids!

Solution: Learn to listen. Say ‘You seem upset’, not ‘Why are you upset?’ Watch and feed back to them. If your kid says ‘I’m bored’ reflect it back: ‘You’re bored’ (a statement, not a question or criticism). When you feed back their words, it shows you’re listening and they may feel encouraged to open up more. Show them how they feel is important to you. Learn this skill and use it regularly.

Problem No. 3: Criticizing Criticizing your kids is not how to win friends and influence people! Sure, some of what they do mightn’t be kosher. Licking the plate. Blaring their music. Texting manically. Wearing that. Showering forever. Or not showering. There’s lots you could moan about. But nagging and complaining isn’t the recipe for happy families.

Solution Put a sock in it! Give up criticizing today. Watch how relationships improve when your kids stop expecting you to nark about something they did or failed to do. Self-criticize if you must, but hey! why now give yourself a break too?

The whole article, including the other seven problems and solutions, are published in the current issue (June 21, 2010) of Woman’s Way magazine.