Enough of the past, it's time to savour what we have in the present
It is funny how we allow ourselves to become sentimental about time. We look back on our childhoods as special periods of security and hope, and then, as we get older, a degree of maudlin nostalgia sets in.
The funny thing is, it is all just a matter of perspective. Developing an attachment for one period over another is really not very rational, or even healthy.
Those who look back with a moist eye and fondness for yesteryear are cutting themselves off from the energy and opportunity that surrounds them in the present. Every breath we take in this moment is a gift and should really be savoured.
We tend to say to ourselves, "Oh, if only so and so was here", or, "I wish I was in such and such a place".
Again, those empty feelings just expand and leave us feeling at a loss, where as if we stop and think how very lucky we are to be in a country that protects freedom, that will not let us starve and that is not in the midst of war like so many other corners of our troubled Earth, we have a whole lot to be thankful for.
It is understandable we have a tendency to dwell on what we lack as opposed to celebrate the many wonderful things we possess.
Each day is a new beginning, but if we are trapped by some grip the past has on us, we can scarcely enjoy it.
It is difficult to survive the barrage of advertisements, especially at this time of the year, which all seem to insist you are a lesser person for not availing of the miracle benefits of whatever 'to-die-for' goods are being flogged.
How quickly we begin to value ourselves against what we do not have instead of marvelling at what we have achieved and what we might yet become. We take on a fatalistic view, and see the world of dreams and success as another planet created for a gilded few.
Really though, if we remember, we came into this world with nothing and will leave it with the exact same, we will start to see the foolishness of overly investing in 'stuff', and concentrate instead on the inner strengths that make it possible for all of us to love and share. And if not now, then when?
Dalkey, Co Dublin
EU poised for US-style paranoia
Outgoing EU Parliamentary President Martin Schulz claims Brexit will be a great loss to the EU and the UK.
Why then did he, and his confréres, behave so atrociously in public towards the UK electorate in the immediate aftermath of the referendum?
If there was one decent 'politician' in any of the leadership quangos overseeing the EU, they would have reacted far more cordially to the citizens and government of the UK, by putting in place immediate steps to address the real, or imagined, deprivations the UK suffered because of full EU membership.
Sadly, we will now see a repeat of the rush to the euro, as the 'leaders' (whoever they are) try to create an EU Defence Force overnight.
Why? Because the Democrats in the US have unearthed their 'Red under every bed' paranoia.
Justice for the unborn infant
In the supplement 'Diversity and Inclusion' (Irish Independent, December 15), Minister Katherine Zappone wrote an article headed 'Justice, equality and fairness for all'. Does the 'all' include the unborn infant? I hope she intends that it does.
Athlone, Co Westmeath
Swinburn a master of Irish Classics
In relation to your racing correspondent Johnny Ward's snippet (Irish Independent, December 15) with regard to the late Walter Swinburn being adamant that he was Irish, and always said he was Irish, when speaking some time ago to his former great rival Willie Carson in the 'Racing Post'.
It will be noted that he enjoyed considerable success when riding in the Irish Classics, winning the 2,000 Guineas on Shaadi in 1989, two 1,000 Guineas on Sonic Lady in 1986 and Marling in 1992, two Derbies on Shareef Dancer in 1983 and Shahrastani in 1986, and two Oaks on Unite in 1987 and Melodist in a dead heat in 1988.
While it is universally recognised that Swinburn was at his best in the most important races, it is indicative of his consistency as a jockey that he averaged over 80 winners a season each year in Britain between 1981 and 1993, with 111 winners in 1990 being his best season.
Highfield Park, Co Galway
Art plan does teachers no favours
While not ignoring the positives in the recent launch of Creative Ireland, we feel it would be remiss not to comment on the first pillar of the programme.
The stated aim of devolving the creative potential of each child is laudable, significant and necessary. The plan goes on to state it will involve, "The publication of a five-year Creative Children plan which will enable every child to access tuition in music, drama, art and coding".
Forgive me, but are the arts not part of the primary school curriculum? Is each teacher not qualified to mediate this curriculum professionally and to a high standard? Does each child in primary school not receive tuition in music, art and drama as part of the curriculum?
It seems to me that the plan either chooses to wilfully ignore this fact or is implicitly suggesting such tuition children receive from teachers is fundamentally flawed, best ignored and in need of saving by experts from the arts world.
Either that or teachers are abdicating professional responsibility by not teaching these areas of the curriculum. Of course, it may be that what teachers provide weekly in school, and often after school too, is not regarded as arts.
We regularly hear of arts-in-education as opposed to arts education - a distinction that does the arts no favours. Is it the case that music education is really seen to be about learning an instrument? Or tuition in drama is all about performance?
As if that in itself is a creative act. Learning to perform a skill is functional.
How this skill is manipulated and transformed is the creative and imaginative act.
No one would suggest that because we know how to write we are automatically creative writers. The same holds true of playing a violin or piano.
The arts is first and foremost about discovery and understanding of self, then self in the world.
Like sport, participation must be more important than competition or performance.
Arts education is all about this, and teachers, many of whom are extraordinarily creative, know this and cultivate children's creativity and imagination day in, day out. It would be a great pity if the message they got from this plan is that their work is not appreciated and is largely irrelevant.
Ger Ó Sé, Committee ACAE
Rush, Co Dublin