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Jim O'Brien: If your spirit is flatlining on these grey days, let the little consolations lift you


Ollolai is offering houses for less than €1

Ollolai is offering houses for less than €1

Ollolai is offering houses for less than €1

In these stainless steel days of January and early February, I find that life appears to deflate. In pseudo-medical language, it flatlines.

A move to Sardinia might give me a lift: the mayor of a certain town there says I could buy a house in his municipal district for a euro. A house in Sardinia could be the thing.

Here on the edge of the North Atlantic it is harsh and unrelenting at this time of year, and spring is nothing more than a promise.

The morning walk has become an endurance test of waddling along dark roads in torchlight, stuffed into layers of clothes held together by a seam-stretched high-vis jacket.

Things are gone beyond bothersome, they have become flat and tasteless.

The flatline word says it all. It's a term used in emergency medicine to describe what happens to the electronic monitors when the body gives up - the green lines on the various screens cease their dancing, waving and pulsating.

In the early 1990s I saw a film called Flatliners featuring Julia Roberts. The story centred around five American medical students attempting to probe the afterlife by inducing near-death experiences. The friends would hook one of their number up to the medical training equipment and after administering tranquillising drugs would allow the volunteer 'patient' to descend to the point where the monitors flatlined.

Lunatic hope

Every time they did this they let the flatlining last longer and longer, in the lunatic hope that the misfortune on the slab might get a glimpse of what was going on beyond the body.

I remember clearly the piercing sound of the uninterrupted 'beep' when the monitor flatlined. From what I can recall, the dare-devil students discovered nothing too exciting about the other side.

But the body isn't the only measure of life. There is a flatlining of the mind and the psyche, or maybe it's of the soul. It can reduce one to little more than a blood-supported shell and it doesn't require drugs to bring it on.

The flatlining of the spirit can steal your strength; like a cold sweat it saps meaning and purpose and certainty.

Meanwhile the cycle of time becomes relentless and the tide of things seems impervious.

During these early and unremarkable days of the year I find myself sapped of the life-force and searching for small consolations to keep me going.

It's like balancing on tufts of grass in a muddy gap.

In the broader scheme of things I suppose I'm not badly off: I have clothes to swaddle myself in, a torch for the dark and, if I'm walking the roads to get rid of a few pounds I obviously have more than enough grub to graze on.

It's not a bad start, or as government spin doctors might say, 'the fundamentals are sound'. When the basics of food and shelter are attended to, one can afford to dream a little, even of Sardinia.

During a recent flat spell I went for an aimless waddle that was saved from complete lethargy by the unbounded energy of two heedless dogs.

On my return, while searching the layers of coats for my house keys I found a stray euro and remembered the Sardinian mayor.

As soon as I unpeeled myself and hosed down the hounds I consulted Madame Google, asking her to find the Sardinian town with my one-euro house. She pinpointed a place called Ollolai.

But like all too-good-to-be-true offers, the Mayor's had a devil of details attached. For a start I would need €20,000 to refurbish mia nueva casa, a minor detail to many but not to me.

The current consort keeps a firm hold on the purse strings and would undoubtedly copper-fasten her grip at the very thought of this venture.

That night I dreamed I was on the green bus to the airport with a euro in my hand and a tin of sardines in my pocket. When I got to the check-in desk I laid the sardines on the counter as my one-way ticket to Sardinia. At that all the screens in the airport flatlined and I woke with a start.

The consort opened one eye and asked what was going on. I told her I was dreaming of Sardinia. "Go back to sleep, you eejit," she said.

I'll have to wait for the daffodils.

Indo Farming