There’s a meme going around saying that a bed is just a padded shelf where we put our body when we’re not using it. The saying is oddly clever, but it doesn’t capture the fact that we don’t actually have a choice about sleeping. It’s going to happen. Consciousness wears us out, and then leaves us, despite our best efforts to force it to stay for the coffee and energy drinks. Eventually, we all need that shelf to serve as our wireless recharging station. Try as we might, even the strongest and fittest and most prominent humans can’t avoid shutting down regularly. For hours on end, we lie prostrate, vulnerable, and undignified on our beds, completely unaware and unable to work on our to-do lists and ambitions. Presidents snore. Queens drool on silk pillows. Celebrities wake up with bad breath and messy hair. Geniuses roll out of bed with foggy brains, groping for the coffee pot.
I missed the bandwagon. Years ago, blogging was the thing to do, but it’s well past its edgy coolness now. It’s one of the older platforms in the world of online discourse, but a year ago I started anyway with a post called “What’s New About New Ireland?”. The fact is, some thoughts don’t fit neatly into the confines of a tweet or the text on a meme. For me, the process of distilling my scattered thoughts into words and sentences and paragraphs each week for a year has helped immeasurably to sharpen those same thoughts in my own mind. I hope it has been helpful to others as well. I like the freedom to write about anything I’m thinking about, which is why I used only my name for the site address: the thing holding these thoughts together is the fact that I thought them, and even that is a stretch because most of my thoughts are gleaned from the brains of others. Along the way, I’ve developed a growing appreciation for the amount of work others put in to expressing their thoughts carefully and well amid the constant stream of articles, news stories, and posts that is our modern internet. It’s not an easy task to sharpen English into the kind of point that can stick and do lasting good, and those who do so well have my respect.
On that note, and as a way of celebrating a year of blogging, I’d like to draw your attention to a few other Irish blogs that I have found helpful: Continue reading Of Blogging For A Year (And Also O.C.D., Music, And Travel)
This post was co-written with my wife, Jessica
2am. One of us stumbles out of bed. Again.
“I can’t sleep. I’m afraid.”
What if there are malarial mosquitos in the house? What if I have a heart attack because I ate too much butter? What if I get skin cancer from being outside today? I can’t stop thinking about the bad guy from the cartoon, or the child-snatching monster from the fairy tale, or…
I’ve been doing extra chores this week, since my wife Jessica is out of the country. Even with the freezer full of food she left us, it still takes a lot of time and effort to keep things going around here. Dishes and clothes and bathrooms don’t clean themselves, and it doesn’t matter how many times I brush the floor, it’s dirty again. I knew this was coming, and I do housework anyway, but there’s another side of the job that I’ve found more difficult than the extra physical labour involved in being the only adult in a house with three children. There’s a hidden weight in housework that is heavier than all the dishes and laundry and dirt combined: The mental strain of keeping up with all the various things that need to happen, and when, and how.
Our family loves camping. As soon as we get home from one excursion, we start looking forward to the next. But why?
It’s tons of work.
The packing takes ages. There’s lots of specific (and bulky) equipment needed, and there are complicated logistics like cooking without a kitchen. Even with all the equipment, it’s still uncomfortable. Air mattresses are nice, but the nights are still cold, the walls are still thin, the showers and toilets are far away, and somehow the bugs seem to prefer being inside the tent to anywhere else in the world. I guess they don’t mind the fact that we all smell like the fire.
We have a good, warm house and comfortable beds. Why would we do this to ourselves?
My wife and I got married 15 years ago this week. Shortly after, I wrote a short poem for my new bride:
Are there seasons to love, new months and years bring?
If seasons there are, our love is the Spring
A sapling still budding, fresh fruit on the vine
With roots planted deep in the well of Divine
Must needs there be Winter? I haven’t a clue
My prayer is to always be growing the New
But seasons can come, and seasons can go
Our love will remain, it will always be so
Though slowly, yet surely, this oak of the Lord
Will grow up precisely as it has been told
Till stands in God’s garden a tree strong and true
That brings Him a smile as He’s passing through
I suppose it’s natural when you begin something to think of the ending. But there’s something else I didn’t think of so much back then, something we’re living a lot of right now. It’s something you might call “the middle”, or in the words of the poem, that “slowly, yet surely” bit. Saplings may be full of exciting potential, and mature oaks of awe-inspiring strength, but it’s the transformation from one to the other that accounts for the majority of the life of the tree. And our marriage.
It was my mother’s dream to have a log house, and my father built her one in Possum Holler, in the rolling hills of northern Alabama. You’d have trouble finding that name on a map, but it’s the place I grew up alongside the peach and pecan trees my Dad planted in front of the house. I didn’t see very many Opossums there, but it was a Hollow in the mountains, so that fits. There was a lake as well, and a small cave to explore, and a sinkhole, and the forest on the mountain behind us was basically endless. I would certainly have gotten lost several times in those woods, if I hadn’t had our dog along to show me the way home. She always knew, and I learned to trust her, even when I thought she was wrong.