Friday, 16 December 2016

Today without Tomorrow

What would you do if there were no tomorrow?

Most of us never give the future a second thought, we assume its coming, and there will be plenty for all we wish to achieve.

What if you knew there was going to be no tomorrow, or even a limited amount of them? What would you do differently should you know the last date on your calendar?

Would you change the big things or concentrate on the little?
Would you do something for another or something for yourself?
Would you chase a goal or live for the moment?
Would you give rather than receive?
Would you hold a hand, love a lover, kiss for the longest time, smile, dance, play or sing?
Would you make your dreams come true or be the dream to another?
Would you make the world you're leaving better or grab the last moments for yourself?

Tomorrow is never guaranteed. We may have a thousand, we may have none. It is only when we think about such a possibility can we truly judge the importance of what we do. It is only in the light of finality that we can weigh action against the outcome. Too often I think we get caught up in the delusion of infinity which blinds us to the true treasures in life. 

Take a look at your day and ask yourself, is this want I'd do with my last? 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Let it Snow

Sometimes memories are connected to the strangest of things. It might be a smell, or a particular sound or something else entirely that whisks you back to a moment in time which will live with you forever. One such thing for me is snow, and seeing those first fluffy white crystals falling from the dark clouds above. I know most people love snow and it reminds them of snowball fights and building snowmen and frozen fingers. It reminds me of those things as well but also another more precious memory. 

When I was growing up, things in Ireland were particularly tough. Interest rates on mortgages had reached as high as twenty percent, and a huge amount of people were out of work. My Dad had a good job in a factory, but when the government benefits ran out for the owners, they simply pulled out and left hundreds of people high and dry.

I was only small, six or perhaps seven, and although we never wanted for anything, even I noticed how tight things were. We had to sell our nice big house and move to an old cottage, further out in the country. It was basic, to say the least. No running water, no central heating, there wasn't even a toilet; but that didn't matter to me. It was all one big adventure. The great thing about being small is you don't care how new your clothes are, or if your shoes had an owner before you. The only thing you want is to be loved, to have fun and feel safe. I had all of those things in abundance.

It wasn’t so easy on the grownups. Now that I’m older, I know they would have wanted to give us the best of things, and when they couldn’t, it hurt. That time was very hard on my Dad in particular, who was doing everything he could to keep bread on the table. For a while, he had no car and had to thumb or walk where ever he needed to go in search of work.

This particular year, Christmas was coming, and I can tell you we were as excited as any kids in the country, just dying to see what Santa would bring. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around I’m sure we were stretching every nerve our parents possessed. Then it happened; snow!

Some of what happened I remember, and some my Mom told me years later, but as soon as the snow began to stick, my Dad vanished. Night fell, and he still hadn't returned. I remember going to bed half excited about Santa coming and half worried about where Dad. When the morning came, which might have been the middle of the night, because what kid can sleep late on Christmas morning, we found a huge timber sledge under the tree. It was big enough to take all three of us, it had a rope handle for pulling it and tin runners to make it fly down the snow-covered slopes. We nearly never get snow over here, so I would bet we were the only children with a toboggan that snowy Christmas morning.

What we didn't know was that Dad had gone to our old house as soon as the snow began. He walked there and it must have been nine miles. He might not have been able to buy us much, but he was a wizard with his hands. In our old shed, he spent that whole dark night building us a once in a lifetime gift. I have always pictured him, trudging through the freezing night, dragging the sledge home for us.

That is the image that comes to my mind every time it snows, and I can honestly say, no children ever had better parents. Thanks Dad.