The innocent joy of wonderment

It was around this time of year when we were kids that a vast array of nothingness spread ahead of us like a meadow with no walls. When schoolbags would be kicked into a corner for the summer, when evenings playing handball in the old ball alley would spread into days playing handball. When you would throw yourself back on the grass, stare at the heavens and wonder about things you had no notion of wondering about. Lying there watching the clouds move across the blue skies and wondering if it was the cloud that was moving or the earth beneath you.

And you knew that you wouldn’t be left there long wondering about wonderment because there’d be a shout from inside telling you of some job to be done. That there was no such thing as a free lunch or a free summer.

Looking back now, much of that could be classed as forced boredom, but I have come to learn that a bit of boredom doesn’t do anybody any harm. That it acts as a sort of mental leveller to help you appreciate the gravity of the moments when you are joyous, or the depths when you are sad.

You often think that it would be revelatory if you could transport yourself back to then, knowing what you know now, but then that would just make you a know-all, a pompous fool.

However, I often think of the converse. What if we could take what was in our minds then and transpose the childish wonderment into our everyday thinking now; what type of people would that make us?

Maybe we should start life knowing it all, and then lose a little bit each year until we are reduced to mere wonderment.

I am reminded of it all this week after the decision by Rory McIlroy to declare that he would play for Ireand in next year’s Olympics in Tokyo. It was not so much the decision, but his reasoning for it.

The golfer said that when he reached out to make his decision, he went to that place in his mind when he was truly grateful to represent anyplace, anywhere. And it was in his childhood when he wore the green blazer of Ireland.

Perhaps that is the beneft of being a millionaire that you can use a hark back to your childhood to justfy your actions. But I think it is much more than that, and it is something that (millionaires or not ), we can take some emotional sustenance from.

Sometimes having the attainment of contentment as your goal is all you need.

I’m not sure how many of the candidates in next week’s elections lay back in the summer grass and dreamed about being politicians. My guess is not many. My guess is that they have been motivated to stand by events that have stirred them in the years since.

I am filled with admiration for those who have put their name forward, because in doing so, they are braver people than the rest of us who decided not to. I do not believe for a minute that any of those running have done so for the money or the glamour, because of that there is little, compared to what they sacrifice in terms of privacy.

From teatime on Sunday week, almost 60 of them will become councillors; they will (maybe for the first time ) have given up life as they have known it. Not just their own lives, but their families. From then on, they will become public property.

As you look at the faces of those who are running, whether they be on posters or in the papers or online, take the time to find out about your candidates because these are the people who will be playing a large part in influencing the direction of the city and county for the next half decade, and maybe beyond.

I hope that all of them are taking their roles in this seriously; that they are sure they will make a strong contribution to this community; to make it a better place for all people to live and not to be espousing divisive nonsense; to ensure that nobody feels like an outsider, to ensure that certain values of empathy and respect are never shelved.

I wish them all well and hope that they too get fulfilment from the betterment of our society, and that by creating a better Galway, they will allow us all the luxury of wonderment once again. And maybe lie back on that grass again.


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