The perpetual pursuit of soundness

They always say that the coolest person in the hospital is the ultrasound guy. And on the days that he’s not around, the next best is the hip replacement guy.

Being sound is one of the nicest tributes someone can pay you. In Ireland, we probably have only two types of people. There’s the person who’s sound....and the fella who’s ‘only a bollicks’. People go through life striving to have the former compliment, only for their efforts at making people like them,  make them more likely to receive the latter moniker.

We love being around people who are sound; sound people are just so.....sound. While someone who is only a bollicks is the opposite. In life, we tend to experience more people who are “only a bollicks’ than those who are sound. Which leads us to remark on them, to tell people about them, to stamp “Soundness” in a hot iron on their forehead in a style reminiscent of that old farming ad.

This week, the whole country is in meltdown over a sound guy. In a week in which the club of clowns leading major world powers granted admission to a new one, the importance of soundness becomes ever more apparent.

We have a lot to learn from Shane Lowry — and all that he brought to our screens this week. The soundness, the ordinariness, the down to earthness, these are all qualities that we admire in people, that we aspire to have, that we would love everyone to espouse (although if everyone was down to earth, there wouldn’t be an apparent delineation to enable to know who is sound and who is only a bollicks.

But in all seriousness, what a breath of fresh air Lowry has been. We are wowed by his golf and his ability to thrive under pressure, and we put it down to the fact that he is just like the rest of us, that he was reared in a turf box, that he had a family that worked hard to help him get on in life, that he appreciates his family and hasn’t forgotten what they have done.

But in addition to this, it is his perspective that is the more heartwarming. On Saturday night, he was asked how he felt on the cusp of a day that could change his life. Half a dozen shots ahead, we just wanted to know if he thought he would mess it up, would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as many of our teams and heroes are prone to doing.

We wanted him to say no, I’ll be grand. But he said something different. He said this isn’t stress. Stress might be hoping a small white ball sinks into a hole, but real stress is waiting by the side of a hospital bed while a loved one flitters between life or death. Stress is minding a sick child; He said he knew people who had been given a terminal diagnosis. That’s stress. Not this.

“If I win, I win, and if I don’t, while it will be disappointing and maybe haunting, I’ll cope.” What an attitude. A policy we can all take into our lives. To realize that everything must be put into perspective; that the small things that are deemed worrisome, are just that, small things. That if things don’t work out, there is always family....and a warm fire on a winter’s night, the welcome handshake or hug of a friend, when the door can be bolted and the worries of the world locked outside, melted by the love of those who matter, those who are sound. Lowry’s words are a reminder to us all to never forget the little things in life, because one day you will realise that these are the biggest things.

Thank you Shane Lowry, not just for making us happy and proud of an Irish success, but for much more than that. For the realisation that you can be sound and successful. A lesson for us all...

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