A weekend of journeys

The weekend used to be a great time for ‘the spin.’ In the days when having a car was a novelty, “sit in, sit in,” would be the mantra, as families would pile into the car on a Sunday afternoon for a drive made with no end in mind, the act of travelling seemingly more important than any pre-determined destination. Weekends became associated with journeys, spins to nowhere in particular, visits from unannounced visitors, a series of movements that kept us all connected, grounded, and with a strong sense of where we were from, and what lay out of sight, just over the hill.

But as time went by and we became more sophisticated, the Sunday trip became ‘so 1970s,’ and as shops began to open, Sunday became less different from the rest of the week, and now for many of us, it barely differs from the other six.

Weekends or Sundays are meant to appease us, to allow us time to absorb all that has gone on in our working or schooling week. To create new connections, to get a good sense of ourselves, a sense that is lost when you’re watching the clock or stuck in traffic all week.

We all need some sort of journey on a weekend, whether it be a physical one or not. We all need weekends to be a ticket in the raffle of life, something that might be joyous if it works out, but which won’t be earth-shatteringly disappointing if it doesn’t.

This weekend is one of the most important of the year. Dawn will break to the sound of thousands of us pounding footpaths, eyes will readjust to the changing sky, walking, running, thinking, remembering others, to the sound of the dawn chorus, when the birds will song their songs without royalties, their free morning tune to guide those taking part in the Darkness Into Light events in aid of Pieta House.

Too many people are left sitting on an edge of a bed staring into an abyss at 4am, the negative thoughts of the world falling over themselves to get to the front of the queue in your head, cramming in together lest they should let any light through, any hope that would deter you from thinking positive thoughts. At 4am, the world is a cruel place. Or so it seems.

This weekend, that 4am solitude is broken by the sound of so many taking part in this novel initiative, an event with a name that should remind us that solitude and perception can change in an instant, that solace may be just around the corner. This is a great weekend to observe the rollover of darkness into light, a reminder to us all that we should never lose faith in the ability of tomorrow to be the best day ever.

Sixty thousand music fans will come into Galway this week to sway and sing to the sounds of their new idol, a man who came up through music the hard way, earning his first shillings on the corner outside the Treasure Chest. I wonder how many more would have stopped and cheered and dropped something into his guitar case if they knew he would be one of the world’s top artists a decade or so later. The vagaries of life, of a kid who kept believing in the ability of tomorrow to be the best. And if not tomorrow, then the day after, or the day after that. Let us all bear that in mind when we next pass a busker, stop, enjoy, donate and praise.

And then let us repeat that to each other. Let us not all walk idly by pursuing our own agenda. Stop, listen, talk, donate to everyone you meet, make nobody feel any less special because you have not bothered to do so.

The difference between hope and despair is not a gorge of Grand Canyon proportions. Often it is the smallest thing that makes us view everything in different ways.

When our hurlers run out in Tullamore on Saturday evening, they do so as All-Ireland champions, because last year, they saw, they learned, they believed, and they lifted all our spirits. The next day in Castlebar, when Galway play Mayo, they do so as two teams that are respected and talented and sure to play a big role in how we enjoy our summer.

These players and their coaches are scriptwriters on the soap opera that is our lives. If Damien Comer crashes through for a goal on Sunday, he will lift the hearts of many, and dash the hopes of others. When Joe Canning pulls a shot out of the fire as he did against Tipp last year, we all sit back, and admire this thing of beauty.

Summer is here and the boys and girls of summer are here. There is so much to be thankful for. The arrival of the dawn light will enable us to see all of that, and for those who need some help in having this pointed out to them, be there to give a welcome hand, to listen, to talk, to share.

The summer which starts this weekend will create many magical moments — let us all help each other to experience them and enjoy the ups and down and bumps along the way.

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