Wednesday 21 February 2018

Declan Lynch: Ignore the voices and relax instead

Stock photo: Getty
Stock photo: Getty
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

A sense of peace - that is what we feel at this time, as we anticipate another of the great football tournaments.

We may also be feeling little surges of excitement and these moments of hope and fear, the usual emotions which come to us when we think about some of the things that can go wrong, and even some of the things that can go right.

But these are the lesser sensations which come and go, next to that more profound sense of peace and perhaps a touch of harmony, that comes over us when we contemplate the month that stretches ahead.

That's a month, or, if you like, four weeks. Or even four weeks and five days if you're starting today, which you probably are, commencing the countdown which is an intrinsic part of the experience - in fact we can round it all up to five weeks, give or take.

Which, at this moment, seems in the words of the philosopher Gary Neville like "a mountain of time". And when Neville gave us that image, he was only talking about the three minutes added on at the end of a game, so in Euro 2016 we'd be looking at a lot of mountains here, a lot of time.

And peace - such peace.

Not of course the kind of peace that emerges at the end of a war, the peace that is merely the absence of violence, but something more profound, this yearning for a kind of one-ness with the great forces of life that is only to be found in watching a total of 51 games of international football in ascending order of importance in the middle of summer.

To think that the last time it was just 31 matches . . . which seemed excellent at the time, but which is nowhere near as excellent as the 51 that we will be watching in their entirety including pre-match and half-time and post-match analyses and anything else they can give us to prolong this thing that is known to gamblers as "time in the zone".

That is what we are all looking for: time in the zone. That heightened level of relaxation that some people find in a game of poker that goes on for 51 hours, but which all men and women can enjoy in its most benign form by immersing themselves freely and utterly in the 51 matches of a football tournament.

Not that there won't be voices, even at this most precious time, telling us to stop relaxing. I have warned of them before, these voices telling us to stop relaxing, stop relaxing, stop relaxing.

Even in the ordinary days of our lives, the days that are not much good because they do not contain the possibility of watching three big football matches, one after the other, these voices come to us incessantly.

We do not know any more what peace is, because always there is somebody on the radio giving us "advice" on all aspects of our lives, which broadly adds up to the same thing - whatever it is that you like to do, whatever you find relaxing, such as (to take an example at random) watching football matches, you should stop doing that and you should do something else that you don't like doing.

So ubiquitous are these voices, we hardly even notice them any more, and yet they are always there, disrespecting our recreations, corroding our sense of well-being. And they will be growing louder now, as they seek to "advise" us in the days to come, on how best to manage the totality of our lives. They will pretend that they see the good of these tournaments, the "great crack", but they will tell you to "take a break", to "get a bit of air", to "remember to eat", and other such drivel.

You must not listen to these voices and most of all you must not listen to the voices of the kind of people you find on the Marian Finucane Show on a Sunday morning, talking about the "footy".

There are so many things that they do not understand, but one of the main things is this notion of theirs that it's all about "the boys in green", as they call them, that they mightn't be that pushed if "the boys in green" weren't involved . . . am I right in thinking that even now you are a little less relaxed than you were a few moments ago, that when "the boys in green" is coming from these voices it is unsettling? That it brings up for you a lot of agitation which you are silently enduring in your life, from which the Euros, being much better than life, is supposed to be a tremendous release?

Avoid these people, for they are vexatious to the spirit. They cannot reach you, where you are going.

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