In the year that is in it, when we have all been twisted and turned this way and that by the vagaries of this awful disease, there are moments which sum us up as a nation which make us smile and realise what a great little place we can be when we stick together.
This week on social media, Bohermore man John Joe Quinn became an Insta-star, when an image of him supping his pint after his lunch in McGinns Hop House in Woodquay went viral. It was a beautiful picture, rich in warmth, light, and texture. It reminded me of the cover of the Christy Moore album Smoke and Strong Whiskey. (I have reproduced it here from the social media page of McGinns. )
It was an image that stirred so many emotions throughout the country, mostly from people who saw their own father or grandfather in that way; sitting content in a snug corner, watching the world going by, supping a slow pint, with a little alarm clock to count the time slipping by effortlessly. It was a place to which everyone who saw it wished they could be transported.
In a year in which we have had the future King of England pictured inside a Galway pub window, looking out at the afternoon sun, this too summed up the pure delight of a quiet daytime drink in an Irish pub.
While it was initially felt that John Joe had the clock to keep an eye on his allotted time, he said later that he had the clock with him to remind him when it would be time to head home for the evening news. Again, another gorgeous image of a man among us, living his life by his own clock.
Immediately there were offers of pints being bought and paid for over the web for John Joe, because in John Joe, everyone saw a bit of themselves. Fair play to him, he did not know he was in the limelight all over the country, and he took it all in his stride.
But the episode was interesting. It showed the capacity that is there for us all to care at a time when a lot of our thoughts are on ourselves. On this day in particular, when we mark the passing of so many in so many tragic ways during this summer, it is important that we all know that everyone gets overwhelmed by the situation we are in at the moment, but everyone has the capacity to find their way out of it too. Everyone can find a quiet space, like John Joe did and contribute to the beauty of humanity in their own peaceful way.
This winter, let us spread a bit of that care around. Let us not reserve our care for social media. Engage with people who are around you, especially the ones who seem the finest because they are often the ones most in need.
It gets dark now not long after 8pm, so the seasons are closing in with a new message this year. Within five or six weeks, the clocks will be changing and when that happens, people become less visible, but no less vulnerable.
Over the past week we have seen several dozen new cases of Covid diagnosed in Galway, so the message for us all to maintain the standards that had seen us thus far, is keep hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing. If we all all make commonsense a bit more common this autumn and winter, we can emerge in the light of Spring hopefully unscathed by a disease that has changed the way we look at everything.
And in that change, if we share our concerns with our friends, and they share theirs with us, we can create better versions of ourselves.