This year I’ve noticed more than ever the impact of the short summer nights, the long summer days, that brightness that nudges you awake at 5am and says, “look at me. See the beauty of the world that you are missing out on by sleeping.” This year more than ever, the weeks and months have flown by; the landmarks by which we stake out the year come and go like town-name signs on a roadway at night, and fly by.
It has been a weird year. I have always valued time, and I suppose like anything you value, you have to be careful lest you allow others to take it from you. This year, it feels like someone has snuck up in the night, checked to see if I was asleep and stolen away a few hours of time, pushed the clock a few hours forward, saying ‘ arragh sure he’ll never miss it.”
Lately I find myself staring out at fields covered with the most beautiful misty fogs in that pre-dawn time. It is an amazing vista, when the moisture from the ground just hangs above every tree, leaving a blanket of low-lying clouds at street level, creating a scene unlike any other during the day.
It makes you stare at it, and you wish you could preserve it, but time moves on, the cloud burns off and the summer day begins.
And that is how I find myself on the cusp of July when it only feels about eight weeks since it was Christmas. The tree in the shed has barely settled down and now it is halfway through its yearlong sojourn.
Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t appreciate until they are depleted, but my, how time is flying. Now, we have climbed over the peak of the year and have started the slow slide down into the shorter days.
It doesn’t help that the world has been such a crazy place this last six months. The sporting and political turmoil, the rise of previously intolerable individuals to high office, the acceptance of idiocy as a mantra, the lowering of the bar of what we deem acceptable behaviour, credentials, and discourse.
We have seen in high office how people accumulate time, and use it. That Trumpian and Boris-ian method of bluffing your way through the next hour, then the next day, then the next week, until you are looking down the barrel of a body of time amassed, as if survival was something to wear like a badge of honour.
When you climb a mountain, the ascent and the descent are just the motions you go through to get to and from the summit. They take a multiple of the time you spend there at the top looking around, enjoying the view. Now, here we are at the turn of the year, with perhaps little to show for it. It is the time when our countryside is perhaps the most beautiful; when our cultural souls are filled with festivals and carnivals and long evenings and time spent outdoors with friends.
It is a time when we should sit down here at the peak, and enjoy the view; take in all that is wonderful about life; slow down time, make it work for us.
In high summer, absorb all that is around you — landscape, life, laughter. Here in the west, we have a lot to be grateful for. Let us open our eyes and enjoy it, open our ears and have the capacity to listen to others, and let the process of learning teach us all the empathy we need to cope with modern life. Enjoy the Galway summer, folks. And learn from it, so that we can create better communities for the winter nights ahead.