A Spark amid the Gloom

I don’t do politics. I’ve often said that. I’m a writer and a librarian so that’s pretty much what people can expect from this blog. Along with videos, things that make me laugh and general nonsense. So please bear with me, just this once.

Unfortunately , over the last couple of weeks in Ireland it has become impossible. We can no more not do politics than a drowning man can not do swimming. Or at least flail around attempting to do it.

And we do appear to be drowning—in the international media all there is to be seen are desolate tower blocks, graffitied walls, half-built estates and pie-bald ponies. It doesn’t look like that much here on the ground. Life goes on. But there’s a terrible sense of foreboding hanging over everything.

In the midst of this, I’m trying to edit May Queen. To be honest it’s a glorious escape. My own spark of brightness in the gloom. There’s a comfort there, as a writer, I can always focus on instead. Another world where things work according to the rules, where no matter how dark it gets, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel which isn’t an oncoming train. Where, as Ms Prism said:

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

Not outside my fantasy bubble, or so it seems right now.

In narrative we have what’s called the dark moment – that bit where everything goes wrong and every attempt to fix it just makes it worse.

Frodo, in The Lord of the Rings, says:

You and I, Sam, are stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: “Shut the book now, dad; we don’t want to read any more.”

Fictional characters, unlike readers, don’t have a choice but to go on. Nothing is as bleak as it first appears and shining some light on the problem normally reveals and answer. Or through sheer will and endurance, everything is made right (or at least bearable) in the end. Things make sense at last and we have closure.

We don’t have much of a choice either. The only way out of this is to go through it. It’s Thanksgiving in the US today, not a holiday we celebrate here, but something to think about. It’s also National Thank You day, organised by the Irish Hospice Foundation.  Thanks and Thank Yous come in many forms.

The Irish people feel betrayed and hurt. No doubt about that. But one thing is certain—we are not the type to give up. And I’m thankful for that. The humour may have got so dark it’s gone into some kind of alternative colour spectrum, but it is still humour for all of that. Some say you have to laugh about it or you’ll cry. But we make our most cutting comments through our humour.

We’re at our best when backed into a corner. We have offers of help and on the whole the goodwill of our neighbours (partly because if we go down they come too but that makes for one hell of an incentive). We have the ability to speak out, to protest, to make our voices heard. I’m thankful for that as well.

Life isn’t fiction, but we can learn from our stories. People make them up for a reason. In the broadest sense they form the long term memories of cultures.

And the Irish have always been natural storytellers. I’m thankful for that too.

It’s time to move on, to cherish what we’ve learned, to turn the page and continue the story, hopefully with wiser eyes.