2018 Grateful 1

2018 is drawing to a close. 2019 is almost upon us. Himself and the two headed over to the healing forest in Slovenia earlier this morning. I’ve stayed behind to catch up on work and meet some deadlines. Tonight we’ll sit around a table with friends and eat lamb, cooked Moroccan style. Fish and poultry will swim or fly away with our luck, so we’ll avoid those. We’ll have lentils just after midnight to make sure we’ll have luck and prosperity for the next 12 months. We might even bury a coin or two in the garden this evening and dig them up on the morrow. We already have a stalk of blessed straw from the village crib in our wallets. Superstition, I hear you say. And you’re right. But in these turbulent times, I’ll do what I can to mitigate the insanity. 2018 has shown me just how irrational the world has become, how self-centred its people are, how much we have lost sight of the bigger picture in an effort to preserve our own sliver of society. I’d like to think that 2019 will be a year of a collective awakening to what’s really important in life but I have my doubts. Something tells me that we haven’t seen the half of what’s to come.

2019 will be a tumultuous one for me. January and February are already as full as the myriad flights I’ll be on. It’s shaping up to be a year of reunions and farewells. With ageing parents and elderly friends, I’m even more conscious of the need to refocus on what’s important and not waste my time. It was a thing that age defined our departure from this world but it seems as if the resounding Irish funeral echo of ‘they were a good age’ is being replaced by ‘they were too young to go’. None of us can tell what’ll happen tomorrow. Today is all we have.

That said, I’m grateful to be in the village, my safe place where the world rights itself, surrounded by good friends. I’m grateful to have the wherewithal to dress the table and see 2018 out in style. And as we stand on the upstairs balcony at midnight, watching the fireworks go off in the villages around the Kis-Balaton, the words of John O’Donoghue’s blessing will  echo in my mind.


Beannacht (“Blessing”)

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Happy New Year. Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh. Boldog új évet.


Ringing in the New Year

I rarely, if ever, buy real champagne. The kind made in France. The original stuff. The real stuff. But this NYE, viewing the rather limited selection in a Kailua supermarket, I went for the real thing. I wanted to start 2013 the way I intend to continue. I want it to be real. Authentic. No copies, fakes, or cheap imitations.

IMG_1483 (800x600)We’d travelled to the north-west side of the island of Kona to spend the night at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The surf was high and although I did brave the water, the waves proved too much. Dinner was an extravaganza of wild pig, oysters, fresh crab, dim sum, sushi, prime rib, and almost anything else you could imagine. Fancy clothes discarded, we headed down to the beach in the hope of seeing the fireworks from the Hilton or the Mauna Kea. The hotel staff had told us that the hills would block the view but taking the shuttle across to the Mauna Kea wasn’t quite the style in which I wanted my year to continue. 2013 is going to be a good one and it had to start as such.

We pitched our blanket and popped the champagne. As we waited for midnight we remembered previous visits and argued goodnaturedly about collective memories that varied so wildly you’d swear we all been somewhere different, my 30th birthday being a case in point. The waves were pounding and we had the beach to ourselves. And then the light show started.

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To be at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, when Budapest and Dublin were waking up with hangovers was a little surreal.  I had the best of both worlds. The fruit of modern pyrotehnics married beautifully with an ocean percussion. Good company and the simple pleasure of a few grains of sand in my champagne … a great start to my New Year.