Empathy, Millions, and Me

“I don’t know what I want, if I’m completely honest
I guess I could start a war, I guess I could sleep on it”

  • Declan McKenna -The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home

Two strange things happened to me this week that never happened before. Strictly speaking that’s not true as several other strange things happened to me this week for the first time, but two of the strangest of the strange things were a feeling of empathy towards Kanye West, and a conviction that I’d won the Euromillions lottery.

One of the philosophies I try to follow in this life is to ‘play the ball, not the man’ , so in Kanye’s case I can appreciate his music, Black Skinhead, and Touch The Sky being particular favourites, and I thought his Glastonbury set in 2015 was class, but can also accept that he is a bit of a gobshite. My empathy derives from the fact that he is clearly suffering a breakdown, and I have been that soldier…without the Jesus complex and fascism. He needs help. Ten years or so ago I needed help, but , perhaps, like Kanye, I thought I was right and everyone else was wrong.

It took my Soulmate ,and my best friend to convince me that I needed counselling. I initially thought they meant marriage counselling and said yes, thinking that my Soulmate was the one in obvious need of help , but no, I was the one in need. I remember being terrified and arrogant at the same time as I drove to my very first counselling session. Terrified because I had no idea what to expect, and arrogant because I was sure that within a few minutes the counsellor, Margaret, would close her notebook, give me back my money and apologise for wasting my time.

She didn’t.

I met with her once every two weeks for 5 months and then intermittently whenever I felt myself slide a bit. I hadn’t seen her for a while and when I tried to make an appointment discovered she’d moved to Switzerland, but she referred  me to another wonderful counsellor, Bridget, and I had another set of monthly sessions with her , and then intermittently…. Until she too moved to Switzerland. I chose to believe that this was just coincidental.

A number of years passed and as I had no counsellor I got out of the habit of seeking help and without realising it found myself in a poor spot again. A great friend recommended a new counsellor and I saw her for a few months and got on great. And thankfully she has resisted the urge to move to Switzerland…so far. As I was referred to her by a friend and met her at her home I only knew her first name, Ann. This did not pose a problem as I made appointments via text. On my phone she’s in contacts as ‘Ann Peaceful’. Having known her for a number of years now I wanted to refer a friend to seek her help and was embarrassed to have to ask her surname. I told her what name I had for her in my phone and she laughed, at least I think she laughed, the line was poor and she was abroad, she mentioned something about triangular shaped chocolate…in the distance I head a cuckoo clock….

I’m telling you this because we all, and men in particular, need help, someone to talk to, to help make sense of this wonderfully frustrating world we share. I’m not embarrassed about seeking counselling, it saved my life. It could save yours.

And the lottery ?

Much to my Soulmate’s heartache, but my kids’ glee, I have often espoused the philosophy at home that ‘money kept longer than three days stinks’. That being said, who doesn’t dream of a lottery win ?
Well , it was Tuesday, and I was out for a run, on my own, as Gareth had put his garden before me, and Ray was on one of his missions. When I run on my own I always pray. I pray proper old fashioned prayers. Yes, yes, I know,, me, praying. Anyway I pray a prayer and think of someone I’m grateful for, or who I think needs a wee help. And then if it’s a long run and I’ve run out of people I know I pray for help for whoever the Universe thinks needs it most. I was coming to the end of my run and passing Teach na Daoine when it occurred to me that the Euromillions draw was on tonight and the jackpot was €49 million. I bargained with myself that when I got back to the car and there was €2.75 in change, I’d buy a ticket. There was. I bought a single line.

Two hours later I heard that the winning ticket had been sold in Ireland.

I just knew it was me.

I didn’t check the ticket for two reasons. Firstly I’d had a shower after my run and was wearing my pyjamas and didn’t want to put shoes on to go out to the car and get the ticket. And secondly, I was tired and wanted to sleep, and knew that if I discovered I had the winning ticket, I’d get no sleep at all. I got no sleep at all. My mind was racing with thoughts of all of the people I’d give money to. In my mind I’d contracted a solicitor to make the payments anonymously to those outside my immediate family, the Capuchin Day Centre, Simon Community, Masi, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Jigsaw, and many others. I had a great idea that every household in Monaghan would get €1,000 in Monaghan Town Vouchers, which I worked out would amount to €17.5 million, based on a population of 70,000 and an average of 4 people per household. The plan to use Monaghan Town Vouchers was that the money would stay in the community.

By that point it was all gone , bar the money needed to finish the Drumlin Giants trail in Rossmore Park, which was actually one of the first things I’d thought of. Within three hours of buying the ticket, I’d won and spent €49.5 million.

Then the doubts set in. There would be notoriety. Within days everyone would know. My life would never be the same.

I drifted off to sleep at last, hoping that I didn’t actually have the winning ticket.

 I like this life.

This crazy, annoying, fun, frustrating, stressful, but mostly wonderful life.


Seek help.


Touch the sky.


Talk to me.


P.S. This is Villagers ‘Nothing Arrived’

Author: paul

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