The body may age, but our minds can stay in eternal spring
Published 09/05/2016 | 02:30
As people age, they become kinder to themselves, and less critical of themselves. They become their own friend. Many dear people leave this world too soon, before they understood the great freedom that comes with maturing.
Whose business is it if they choose to read or play on their computer until 4am, or sleep until noon? Dancing by themselves to those wonderful tunes of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and if they, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, they may.
Walking the beach in a swimsuit that is stretched over a bulging body, and diving into the waves with abandon if they choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They too will get old.
Perhaps they're sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And they will eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years, hearts have been broken. How can a person's heart not break, when they lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car. But broken hearts are what give people strength, understanding and compassion.
A heart never broken is pristine and sterile, and will never know the joy of being imperfect. Hopefully, most will be blessed to live long enough to have their hair turn grey and to have many youthful laughs forever etched into deep grooves on their faces.
So many will have never laughed and so many will have passed before their hair could turn silver.
Don't waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And go ahead and eat dessert every single day.
The body may age, but our minds can stay in eternal spring.
Anthony Woods, Ennis, Co Clare
The unkindest cut of all
I was listening, half-distracted, to the televised contributions from the various political leaders in the run-up to the vote for Taoiseach.
All of the speeches were impressive, unsurprisingly, as each speaker had rehearsed his/her speech for the occasion. But I still found my attention wandering as they spoke.
But then, Clare Daly rose to her feet and it was if a thunderclap had shattered the hum-drum, business-as-usual atmosphere of the chamber. Instead of adding to the predictable rhetoric of the previous speakers, she directed the attention of the other 157 TDs, and a huge TV audience, to the stark, heart-rending reality of what's happening outside the bubble of Dáil Éireann. Yawns turned to tears in many a household as she read the letter from the sister of a woman who had taken her own life in response to pressure from financial institutions.
Sadly, the case she cited is just one of countless unspeakable - and potentially avoidable - tragedies that have convulsed households nationwide.
There are laws against harassment, yet a bank can phone someone up to 30 times a day and send warning letters to a person every two or three days.
Officialdom needs to wake up to the consequences of inhuman policies and unnecessarily crass red tape. Vulnerable human beings can only take so much. Sure, financial institutions are in business to make money, but a little human decency doesn't cost the earth.
Thankfully, awareness is growing of the tragedy that is suicide, and it was heartening to learn of the more than 120,000 people who turned out at venues nationwide for the annual Darkness into Light walk in aid of Pieta House.
But this increased focus on what has rightly been called a "permanent solution to a temporary problem" needs to be matched by a determined and compassionate approach by our political establishment.
The cutting of €12m from the State's mental health budget for 2016 wasn't just unhelpful. It was and remains a national scandal, and those behind it should hang their heads in shame.
One of the first actions of the new 'Partnership Government' should be to reverse that ill-advised decision.
One can argue about the merits of belt-tightening, responsible governance, and fiscal discretion, but that so-called re-allocation of funds was, to quote Shakespeare, the "unkindest cut of all."
John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny
Enda's words in the wind
So, finally we had white smoke from the chimneys of Leinster House to announce the new government with Enda Kenny, in his second appointment as Taoiseach, while the electorate that voted for a real change have been left with a skull in their hands, whispering "to be or not to be".
In line with this Shakespearian dilemma, or Kafkaesque charade, are the comforting words by the reappointed leader, who promises to build a better Ireland for all.
No specifics of course, just words to the wind. No reference to giving back what has been taken from State pensions, no mention of how to solve the housing problem, no reference to overhauling the HSE by curing its unsustainable deficiencies and inefficiencies or mention of how to bring some life back to depleted rural areas rather than giving a new fancy name to the ministerial department responsible.
One plan has been mooted, though, which entails investment in the public sector. If this means giving more money to the public servants by raising their salaries, it will be a costly and futile exercise unless the cost of living, meaning rents, insurance policies, cost of general services like electricity, gas, transport, water charges and the likes, is kept in check.
Concetto La Malfa, Dublin 4
Power to the people
Everyone deserves a second chance. Fine Gael now has a chance to put right all that was wrong with its last five years of governance. But if the party's TDs insist that they've done nothing wrong, then they've learned nothing at all, and the poor are most likely to be the sufferers once again.
I hope I'm wrong and that this new set-up will be a breath of fresh air, where everyone gets a fair deal and not at the expense of those who can least afford it.
Simon Harris is to take over the Health Department. With respect to Mr Harris, he will need a little more than machine-gun-type chatter and the spouting of figures to cure all the terrible ailments of the Department of Health.
We can only wait and see what will be offered to us in the near future.
Irish Water is drowning in a sea of its own mistakes and there is no sign of a lifebelt. That was taken away by the power of the people.
Indeed, our new ministers should take notice - people power is here to stay.
Fred Molloy, Dublin 15
Danny and the dinosaurs
Brian Ahern dreams about an afternoon in Kilgarvan (Irish Independent, Letters, May 7) and anticipates watching the sun moving around the earth.
I'm sure Danny Healy-Rae, being a sound bloke, would wish to save him the trouble of a trip to beautiful Kerry and instead suggest that Mr Ahern swing by his nearest forest and observe all the dinosaurs hatching from the many birds' nests in the area.
That would be some spectacle.
Peter Dunne, Durrow, Co Laois