It was my birthday yesterday. A time, I suppose, for reflection, but given I do plenty of thinking most days it’s not really a day for revelation. The days of the past are with me all the time, in colours, hanging around my shoulders like a gregarious puff of smoke. Some bright, some dark and foreboding, some dazzling, each in itself a memory that lingers, refusing to blow over in the passing seasons.
A lot has changed in the past year though, not directly for me, but around me, new directions altering who I am in life. Harris was born on the 2nd of January. My beautiful grandson, an absolute joy. He is a most welcome addition and defines my son in a very beautiful way, his manliness now moulded in strong arms that hold his own son close in the way I once held him, his heart beating in extension of itself. His pride splayed like silky ribbons that warm the winter sun.
And another grandson is on the way. My daughter is half way through her pregnancy, her son growing stronger by the day, her maternal instincts blossoming as the excitement builds. Last weekend we went pram shopping. A journey of such magnitude, the wheels of the pram a metaphor for the road forward which is different and extraordinary. Little “Spartacus” will be with us in the summer and already my daughter’s heart is beating as one with her son, and my children’s incredibly strong bond with one another is cementing on new founds in anticipation of their rich, extended, relationship.
Thanks to the thoughtfulness of the lovely Art, I was able to wake up yesterday in Mullindress, a soulful home on a beautiful island that has as its behest the ability to fuel the spirit and energise the days ahead. The swelling sea, the singing wind, unshackled bird cry providing a melody as the house bent on its knees to greet us and then embrace us in strong arms. I fell inside, willingly.
It was always going to be a very short trip because of my work commitments but it was made even shorter due to the onset of a gale which was set to cancel ferries. As much as I would love to be stranded I’m never one to bow out on responsibilities so the trip was shortened further to catch the last ferry to the mainland. It was mildly rough, no real swell just jagged waves that the skipper respected and worked around.
I’m used to the boats, I’ve been travelling on them since my first year of life, all 47 of them now! In my younger days we crossed a very treacherous sea in small, open boats with outboard engines that defined our childhoods; they taught us to trust in the skipper and honour the sea. When I was seven or eight, on one particular crossing back to the mainland, the small open boat was caught in the ebb and we were thrown, literally, into significant danger. I was young, but old enough to understand we were in trouble when the priest, who was travelling over with us, asked us all to say the rosary. I distinctly remember feeling no fear, none at all, just a grounded sense of what is going to happen will happen. On reflection it seems like a very cemented response and I always try and cling on to that emotion when I’m not so calm in my surroundings. As it was, despite the really close call, we made it in safely.
I was thinking about that experience when I boarded the ferry in Larne last night. The skipper announced that the winds were reaching gale force and that it would be a very difficult crossing. I held my breath for just a second, not scared for my safety but dreading the onset of sea sickness. I needn’t have worried, the journey was quite special.
There was still light in the sky when we made the crossing on the channel and the sea was majestic. Watching it made me realise how much it mirrored life. The waves are like people, some large and dominating, some small and yet all the while significant, all pushing and pulling and climbing and falling, trying to make their way to somewhere, changing direction when the options are limited, forging forward when the opportunities arise. It was quite something, seeing life on a vast chart in front of me. I don’t really make goals or strive to achieve long term ambitions, I just try and use each day as best I can. Like the waves.
Driving up the road from Cairnryan I noticed that the night sky was a brilliant blue with bright white clouds crashing the scene like the crest of waves, the scene above absolutely mirroring the sea swirling below. There’s always a path ahead and sometimes the one we land on might be unexpected but it’s there for the taking. Another birthday and this was spent surrounded by new life and pride.
I guess on reflection I am reflecting but I have every reason too. Hope your year has been challenging and rewarding too.