Slow Lovely Vibes

“Across the way moved in a pair
With passion in its prime
Maybe they look through to us
And hope that’s them in time”

Deegan/ Coll/ Chatten/ Curley/ O’Connell

Last Sunday my good friend Tiny Ray and I , along with 170 proper runners took part in the Drumlin 10k. It was a gloriously sunny morning as we all gathered in the parish field to collect our bib numbers  and bumped into people from other clubs that we haven’t seen in a while. Nikki came up to me and gave me a hug and chatted nervously about embarking on her first ever 10k, Alan came over to us and shook my hand. He wasn’t nervous, and would most likely be finished and back home in Castleblayney before Ray and I lumbered over the line.

We met Peter and Eamonn who seem to be involved in every single race in the county. Our club chairman , Barry, had collected our bibs for us knowing that we would be late, AnnaMarie of the Tennesse Three took a photo with us, we met Ger Bear, got hugs with Patricia, Mother Superior of The Sisters of Anarchy wing of the Monaghan Town Runners, took a group photo with all of the MTRs and then made our way to our rightful place at the very back of the starting line so that we didn’t impede on any of the proper runners.

And then we were off.

The race route took us out the backroad to Glaslough, passing Emy Lough, and then cutting back on the bog road to Mullan, turning again towards Emyvale, turning right at Mick A Balla’s house, and then back by the lake , the Emyvale GAA pitch, until we were back in the parish field.

Along the way we said hello and thank you to all of the marshals and stewards that make all of these local races possible and took some photos and selfies with them. We stopped for hugs and encouragement from the Joggernut Cheerleading squad, twice ! We noticed old gateways, houses where friends used to live, or places we’d called to when we were kids with our parents, commented on peoples gardens and the relative state of ours. We took in how beautiful it all was, panted quite a lot, and commented once or twice on how warm it was.

As we made our way through the last 500m on the road into the parish field we could her Fabian on the Tannoy calling out the names of the people ahead finishing. He spotted Ray and I on the road, “Call that search party back, I can see Raymond now !”.

There was a huge crowd of runners who’d already finished , tucking into their well earned sandwiches and cake, cheering us on. Just before we crossed the line we fist bumped and finished together, exhausted.

We congratulated everyone we met, and were congratulated in turn.

“Tough out there.”

“Very warm.”

“Great to have it done.”

I stopped to speak to a proper runner, Brenda…no not that Brenda, the proper runner Brenda, and she asked how I got on.

“Great ! Lovely course.”

“Are you mad ?!? That was horrific ! All those hills !”

“Yes, Brenda, but you were going too fast. If you’d gone at our leisurely place, taken a few selfies, you’d have seen all the beauty.”

She smiled politely.

We had a cup of coffee, Ray ate all the chocolate biscuits, and we cheered and applauded all of the winners. When we were leaving Ray stopped by the finishing times board, and turning to me with the widest grin I’ve ever seen, and I’m a fan of the Cheshire Cat, and said “I beat you by a second !”.

That’s him happy for the rest of the year.

During the week I read an article called ‘Vibes’ by a philosopher called Kevin Dorst which explored the phenomena of life improving on average for everyone across the globe by every measure, child labour, infant mortality, maternal mortality, people living in extreme poverty, are all down, while life expectancy , median wages, and GDP are all rising, but everyone thinks that things are getting worse.

There is no doubt that things are very tight, and unbearable in some cases, but even in those cases, compared to 30 years ago, they are much better.

It appears that we are prone to look at the problems rather than what’s going well. Which makes sense, if something’s going well, leave it alone, and focus on what needs fixing. But if all we talk about are the problems, maybe we start to believe that everything is a problem.

Generally , and this is very generally, 75% of people consider themselves to be quite happy, but believe that most other people aren’t. It’s the same with driving, 95% of people consider themselves to be excellent drivers, but think that most other road users are a menace.

The bad news for us all is that social media is making these false projections worse, by amplifying and echoing our natural proclivity to focus on problems.

I deleted Twitter from my phone after reading that article.

I recently heard a talk by someone cool, I can’t quite remember who, Obama, Rory Sutherland, Batman, the aforementioned Cheshire Cat, Andi from Eximo, or Dangermouse perhaps. What they said was , think of someone powerful from history, Rameses II, Qin Shui Huang , Catherine The Great, or Charlemagne, and think of what you have, and what they’d give you to have your health, your comfort, electricity, the mobile phone in your hand, your security.

You have more access to health ,comfort, knowledge and security than the guy who built the great hall at Karnak, the guy who had a terracotta army, the girl who made herself Empress of Russia, and the first Holy Roman Emperor.

I like that notion.

I’m a great one for notions.

Last Friday my Soulmate and I went to Dublin to attend the premiere of a documentary on the Monaghan and Dublin bombings which occurred 50 years ago today. We went for dinner beforehand with our friends Micky and Helena, Micky’s brother Paul, his wife Blaithin, and their kids and partners. Micky and Paul recalled the day of the bomb in Monaghan, their father hearing it from their house on the Broad Road, and running out with the yard brush to sweep up glass. Their Mum, Kitty , was a nurse in our local hospital, and was on ambulance duty that evening, and never spoke of what she saw.

We met Beano Clerkin and Jimmy Croarkin in the queue for the screening, as they were trying to skip it. We all greeted each other with “What are you doing here ?”.

“Helena’s singing a song at the end of the screening.” We said.

“We’re in it !” Beano and Jimmy answered.

It was a harrowing documentary. Wonderfully put together, and very important. I preferred the firs t half of it which focused on interviews with the survivors. There was a particular lady, Bernie McNally, who was working as a teenager in Joe O’Neill’s shoe shop on Talbot Dublin when the second bomb went off. She told her story, sitting in her kitchen, calmly and clearly. The piece that will always stay with me was when she was told in the hospital, after they’d patched everything else up, that she needed surgery on her eye, and they had the doctor to do it but no operating theatre, and no ambulance available to get her to a hospital with a free theatre.

Her Dad drove her, her friend, and the doctor across the city, sirens still going in all directions, and she recalled passing the Blood Transfusion Board and seeing a line of Skinheads queueing outside. Her mother had always told her to avoid Skinheads, they were troublemakers, and she would cross the street rather than pass them. And here they were queueing up to donate blood for the victims of the bombings, and as they passed in the car, she thought “Aah, that’s lovely ! In the midst of all this , there are good people like that.”

Slow down.


Be more Bernie.



Author: paul

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