Catching genius

Blunt fingers caress genius spines

gathered together

in this temple that eddies toward extinction.

Tracing brilliance and divinity

in alphabetical order, hoping dubiously

for genius to catch.


I don’t know.  I can’t even specify what I don’t know.  I am just certain that I do not know it.  I feel vulnerable now and stand in a mirror room of my shortcomings.

I am preoccupied more and more with exploring the meaning of certain notions; chiefly virtue, purpose and passion, and how best to incorporate them into my life.

I do not know the road forward but I think it will not be without grooves and hardship as I am not without flaws.  As Kant said ‘Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.’

I am adrift on an unknown sea, carried by a thin raft surrounded by tall ships flanked with sails of knowledge that do not face me.

Why am I concerned with these notions?  To what end do they serve me and to what end could I serve?

I started volunteer work.  First, we led a group of refugees and asylums around a cultural suburb of Dublin and later, I began to teach them in their homes two nights a week, two hours a lesson.  It came together organically and I was pleased with my progress and the students seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I carried on with the lessons throughout the Summer while working full-time in my school and also moved house twice.

I thought I could maintain the various commitments in my life, after all I enjoyed them, but I grew tired, anxious and fell into self-neglect.  I had no time for myself, eating and sleeping were timed activities during the week, break times at work were scheduled for lesson planning and the weekends consisted of a few hours drinking followed by full day hangovers followed by the fear and take-aways and a build-up of tests needing correcting.

What life is this? When it comes to spending time with my family I am cranky and sharp.  I can hear it in my voice and I can’t help myself, though I want to.

I thought I would feel better for the volunteering.  It was something I had always wanted to do, but I became stressed and tired and was going back to old ways.

What is the virtuous thing to do in this situation?


For my own peace of mind?  But I am proving to myself that I am a good person, but if my unease is leaking into my familial life and causing me to be waspish towards my mother, then, am I still a good person?

If I am truthful, there have been other events, personal events, which have also taken place during this time and which have put me quite off kilter, but they are too absurd to fathom and will probably never see the light of day on paper.

I could waste some time considering the pros and cons of giving up the centre but the most courageous decision is to put myself first and focus on my own progress.

Perhaps joy is the only true thing worthy of pursuit, that and the unfettering of fear.

Passions then: writing as always and travel

Purpose: to find balance, clarity and live meaningfully.

As always, a work in progress






No music today


I had stalled for three hours in a cafe just to download spotify premium and create the ‘perfect walking’ playlist.  Pilgrims were coming and going with their coffees but I remained.  I drank copious amounts of coffee and ate Huevos y setas and waited and waited for my songs to download.   It was time for music as walking accompaniment.

You must know I don’t condone listening to music on the Camino but the silence and eerieness of the fog and endless cornfields were starting to grit.  Even the towns were less inspiring here.  Summer was at her butt-end, and I was struggling to keep her lit.

Playlist ready,  I was good to go.  I refilled my water, strapped on my backpack, pulled the rain poncho over us both, and hit the tar…  Needless to say, as soon I got on my way an oldish gent fell in beside me and proffered conversation.  Peeved, but considerably more polite, I put the earphones away.  There would be no music today.

This man was from Holland and he was enormous!.  Almost 7 foot tall and had a magnificent stride to match.  As he glided effortlessly and chatted uphill, I ran haphazardly and gulped for breath to keep up.

He told me about his trip to Kilimanjaro with his son, and how different that experience had been to this. He said that he had always wanted to do the Camino but could never find the time.  He eventually found the time in a most unfortunate way.

He told me that his haulage company had gone bust not long after he sold it and he felt terribly responsible for the men and women who had worked there a lifetime and lost their jobs.  It was the one thing that he thought would never happen, and so he came to the Camino for reasons more than one.

We talked then about our families, and pilgrims that we both knew.  We discussed the changing spanish landscape, and compared it to flat Holland and Green Ireland.  It was a really pleasant conversation and I hardly noticed the steepness of the hills, or arriving at the next town, where it was time to say goodbye.

He met his party at a nearby drinking fountain, we wished each other only kindness and buen caminoes, and I carried on.  I ruminated on the now pointless three hours spent downloading music, and the fact that if I hadn’t stopped for music, I never would’ve met my new friend.  Also, who knows how long those hill would’ve taken me alone, the sun had been at its most formiddable then.  I was glad of the company and the acquired tales.


So I entered the town alone and I would’ve kept going but the kitschy little leprechaun hanging from the wall of a local tavern was all the excuse I needed to stop for a drink…

I ventured into a long wooden establishment, the space at the rear of the bar widened to allow for parties and dancing.  Innapropriate Native-American headdresses occupied the walls and bar, while slack skeletons dangled from the ceiling and a motion sensored witch cackled everytime the till slammed shut.

It was Halloween!  I love Halloween.  I love dressing up and carving pumpkins.  I love the idea that an older, ritualistic, and haunting world is that little bit more plausible.  (I can’t enjoy the garden without the notion of fairies at the end of it)

(I am there now)

The bar is empty save for a guy at the very back watching a football game on the flatscreen.  I am his interruption.

“What are you having?”  He has spotted me, and tears himself away from the screen.  I am surprised by his very London accent, and I am at once curious as to how he ended up in a dinky Spanish village on the cusp of Galicia.  I asked of course.  Such is the nature of the Camino; to forego on the handshake and get right into the arena of the personal.

With appeased curiosity, I ordered a cider and tried but failed to connect to wifi.  It was pointless anyhow.  I had hoped to get in touch with my pilgrim friends but I was sure they were days ahead of me.  I had lagged behind in Leon… True, I had been ill but now I felt like I could’ve made more of an effort to walk.  I felt myself getting distracted and lazy.  With three rest days behind me, I couldn’t afford to be lax, not if I wanted to reach Santiago before the 4th of November.  I had already wisely given up on reaching Finisterra.

I drank up, and moved on.   I was passing over the bridge out of town when three blurry and semi-naked figures came into view.  They were picnicking down by the river and had evidently been swimming.  Their silhouettes were familiar and I was surprised and happy to see them.  I waved, and my pace quickened in their direction.  I learned from them that the rest of the crew had gone off-track to explore some old castle and were hours behind me.  This was good news!  It was late and I was sure this town would be the most logical for them to stop.  I went back to the Leprechaun bar with the headdresses and skeletons and booked a bed for the night.

It was a long, sleepless, thudding and itchy night and the following day brought me to my second hospital visit and first (and only) tetanus shot on the camino…






A Sunday observation


Who am I to speak of youth and the passing of time?


A Sunday observation.

The scratch of fork on plate, a rough spoonless shake of coffee into a mug and a generous spread of jam on toast.  Country house.

French doors stretch wide onto flowers and breeze and thistle.  A faint smell of slurry carries itself in the air self-consciously.  A neighbourhood handyman haggles the price of a shrub clean-up.

I observe

the finishing of one scene and the setting up of another.  I move from morning: porch and Kate bush (A coral room), to mid-morning: table and laptop and coffee to lunch: the slicing of long red peppers and cucumber, and everyone complaining about the jazz compilation.  A bright red stalk of pepper is snatched from the chopping board.

I am still in poetry trance and observing.  Sister small talks the painter about pints and crowds and hanging heads.  I think they must know each other but she can talk to anyone.  It has been declared that the painter is actually a relative of ours.

Later: a temporary parked car disrupts an outward pastoral scene.

A son visits for the weekend with a growl in his belly.

I observe each exchange and unfolding as isolated and lost moments of love, art, and beauty.

A white jug sits in a corner window facing two matted horses grazing in a field.  I envy its ease of presence.

Last weekend, the jug held a bouquet of fresh flowers and occupied the centre of the kitchen table.  Now, a cup of tea (cold) and fresh bedlinen taken in from the line at the back of the house, sit dried and folded on the table.

I feel these moments have already passed and I am revisiting a vanished glorious time from a metallic future.

Another leaf falls and adds to the carpet of irretrievable days.




You can do anything but not everything.

I could smile and I could kill a man.  I could cross a highway with my eyes closed and hold up a bank.  I could plant a garden of roses and cabbages and tend to an aviary and marry a tree.  I could learn Hebrew and walk across a line between two buildings.  I could be an internet sensation.  I could fall in love and create a lineage of cabbage growers.  I could disgrace my family and fall out of favour with my friends.  I could summit the professional ladder, become president, dissident, terrorist, hypocrite.

I could roam bare foot and kiss the morning and night.  I could eat all the words I’ve ever spoken and write poetry and make love to beautiful men and women.  I could mend clothes and be bedridden and operate an open house and have a patchwork of comers and goers who are grateful and merry with ruddy-wine cheeks but don’t clean up after dinner or make their beds or offer to paint the wall that needs painting but I wouldn’t mind.

I could work and study and party and do drugs.  I could waste my life and be a failure.  I could be up to date with current affairs and netflix and create culinary delights.  I could be useful and aware and grateful.  I could sever all ties with my family and disappear.  I could die.  I could live.  I could feast upon a poisoned plant or choke on my own vomit.  I could die in an explosion or freak accident or from disease or crossing the road.  I could lose the power in my legs and my memory.  I could visit every country in the world and do something that would make my time worth more than money.  I could expand myself and my mind and be heartbroken and cry an ocean of halcyon tears and swallow planets with my grief.  I could take a vat of pills and stick my fingers down my throat as an afterthought.  I could keep rigorous journals of minute detail and grow poetry in green houses and laboratories.  I could exercise and drink green goo and take up a dance class and shave my head or wear pink every day and roller skate to work and drop a penny in a homeless man’s cup.

I could let my hair grow in atypical places and stun my mother and make my friends smirk and roll their eyes.  I could discard all and be a minimalist and tattoo the stories of my life that never happened onto my body and invite people to read them and be a gallery of personality, lies and exhibitionism that walks fast, defecates, and grows old.  I could be unkind and callous and jealous and make decisions out of spite and be selfish and put myself before others and count only my misfortunes and let them colour my view of the world.  I  could wait in queues and hunt bargains and shop online and do a hundred other incidental things that would make up an incidental life.