Wednesday 18 September 2019

Billy Keane: 'Worry will get squatters' rights in your head unless you embrace every moment and live for now'

Keane's Kingdom

This moment is your life and so is the next, and the next. The minding of the happy moments builds up in to a minute, and then an hour, to a day and a week, a month and a year, a life. Photo: Reuters
This moment is your life and so is the next, and the next. The minding of the happy moments builds up in to a minute, and then an hour, to a day and a week, a month and a year, a life. Photo: Reuters
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.

I was people watching along the promenade of Salthill on Thursday last. The teenagers were jumping for fun in to the sea from the high diving board. School was out and the sun shone. There were hundreds of every age walking along the prom.

An older lady was helping her man. He must have had a stroke. She lovingly held his arm and brought him up along the prom. I thought to myself they must have often strode out when he was fit.

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Maybe they had their first kiss here on the prom in Salthill, after a dance when they were teenagers.

I thought too of the way the lady has dedicated her life to minding her man. Judging by the slowness of his walk and his unsteady gait I got the impression the taking care of the stroke victim was a full-time job.

I was sad for them. For what might have been. I saw them in the long ago, when the two of them were as lively and as agile as the teenagers who were jumping in to the sea from the high diving board in Salthill.

I had no right to be sad. She was minding him.

The love was there. I was thinking of the couple before the stroke. That was then and this was now. They were in the now as they stood still for a while and looked out at the sfumato of Clare over the bay.

Be happy for this moment. For this moment is your life. The lines come from Omar Khayyam, a Persian philosopher.

I'm not sure if he meant his lines for the couple strolling oh so slowly along the prom in Salthill. Some say Omar may have been extolling the virtues of a youthful booze-up.

The way I read it was if you live each moment and work on that brief, tiny piece of time, then that moment will be fine.

This moment is your life and so is the next, and the next. The minding of the happy moments builds up in to a minute, and then an hour, to a day and a week, a month and a year, a life.

So how did the couple cope? On they went up the prom. The lady was focused solely on her man. He was holding on to her arm, for fear of falling. The two of them were taking care of each step.

This minding of the moments is new to me. There are times when I have terrible regrets for what has been and done. The worries come in like endless rain and they herd me to their pen.

I looked again over at the teenagers, jumping from the high diving board. It was the holidays, and the exams were over. Maybe in the years to come some of the sea jumpers might say these were the best days of our lives.

But I thought only of the moment when they sprung from the board. The teenage divers didn't roar or shriek with the delight or the fright. For those few seconds, they could think of nothing else but the flight. The worry about question whatever in the Leaving Cert was gone in the there and then. The moments of sheer exhilaration minded themselves.

All the world was shut out when they hit the water. That exact moment when the splash came is a place free of care. I have no notion of climbing up on the board. I am scared of heights.

There's no need to jump off a high board to find that state or place of minding small graces.

Take care of each moment. It's easier than trying to mind a whole life. You herd your own thoughts. Give a little whistle.

Just now, through the open window, I listen to the small birds singing in the big trees. I try to pick out each note.

I have this pal and he said to me one time I had a magpie mind. What he meant was I hop from one bright object to the next.

For the first time since I was a boy, I can pick out each separate trill from the tree-top symphony.

The green leaves shiver a little now in the breezes.

I haven't seen the leaves as individuals. It was as if the shimmering was all one picture like the pixels in the television and the birdsong was the soundtrack in a supermarket.

It is only when you pick out each note you hear the whole of the song and each leaf becomes the canopy.

I'm not saying we give up on work or whatever it is we have to do. Just pick out the pieces, and put each one together, one after the other until they join like train tracks.

Declan Coyle, the renowned psychologist and author of 'The Green Platform', advises we make a list of the tasks we need to do.

You make your own moments and place each task in order of importance.

You don't have to be careless to be care-free.

I was just going to write I wish I had figured out all this years ago. But that's not the way to think. It's about now.

My friend and IT man Bill Fayed from Syria is an Irishman as well.

Bill found a lost file of quotes on my old laptop. Be happy for this moment. For this moment is your life. These words jumped out at me from the hundreds of quotations I had collected over the years.

I have some way to go.

There are times when I let the worries and cares of the old days take over each of my precious moments.

In the end all we own is the space inside our heads and we should not part with that prime real estate lightly.

Worry and care will soon enough acquire squatters' rights, if we let them.

I tracked the couple along the prom. They crossed the busy road to the ice cream parlour in Salthill village. The traffic stopped.

The two sat outside, licking up the 99s. It was as if they were kids and this was the treat. A trickle of ice cream ran slowly down his jaw. She wiped it off gently.

They ate the rest of the cones then, tending to each lick, bit by bit. And the two of them were as one, happy out, in the summer sun.

Irish Independent

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