Wednesday 7 December 2016

Time to take heed of Chris Hadfield's advice on the end of a space mission

Dearbháil Clarke

Published 11/06/2015 | 02:30

Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke
Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke

It's official, then. The baking heat and painfully bright skies so common of this period are here to stay.

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The exam halls feel like pressure cookers, but once you get outside the sun instils a sense of hope.

The trees all radiate green lustre, and the swallows swoop and chirp in a giddy frenzy.

If you're confident enough, you can pretend that the whole of nature is cheering you on. Come on! There's only a week left! After that we can all bask in sunshine and freedom too.

That's not to say I haven't been taking every opportunity to enjoy momentary freedom.

Once your head is crammed with facts and worried thoughts, the sole beneficial action you can do is to find some peace and solitude.

For me, that means burying myself in a book or trekking deep into the isolated countryside around my home.

Yesterday, I found some horses in a nearby field. I adore horses. Their sweet grassy smell and reassuring bulk are the most comforting things I know.

I made friends with a huge bay mare, cleaning the flies and dirt from around her eyes and scratching the itchy spots on her ears and under her mane.

It's a nice thought: that I could relieve some of her discomfort even as her warm presence dissipated my anxieties.

As I walked home on the country roads, I was accosted by lazily drifting clouds of tiny white puffs: the numerous seeds of black poplar trees, or cottonwoods.

Some spiralled down to settle on the stout young ferns. These were straight-backed and sure of themselves: their fronds stretched upwards to lofty heights.

I'm not sure which I feel more like, on this cusp of a new life: a little cottonwood seed shoved unwillingly forward to drift in uncertainty, or a brave little fern, growing up bit by bit.

I suppose we all feel a bit of both.

All right, I'm probably raising eyebrows by comparing my feelings to plants.

None of us want to think about pathetic fallacy now that the English exams are done and dusted. Let's return to sensible topics.

The French paper was considered quite approachable by my peers, although the second comprehension had some tricky vocabulary.

The history paper had mixed reviews. The Northern Ireland section was reminiscent of last year's paper in parts, and the other two essay choices contained popular topics like the Montgomery bus boycott and the infamous trio of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.

However, the document question was not the one that was widely expected to come up - which is a reflection on the fallible nature of predictions in the LC exams.

As the end to this madness creeps closer and closer, it's easy to grow lax and careless.

If I'm allowed to quote the incredibly inspiring astronaut, Chris Hadfield: "The very last thing you do on a mission is just as important as the first thing you did - perhaps even more important, actually, because now you're tired."

Stay focused - the end is nigh!

Dearbháil Clarke is a pupil at Meán Scoil Mhuire in Longford

Irish Independent

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