Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Why I feel so lucky to march to a different tune in life

I know it's Monday by now and the sun's probably not shining like as if we're on the Med anymore, but as I write this the temperature's still high and there's a golden Donegal beach about 100 yards from where I'm sitting, beckoning me to forget the 12th and the 11th night and burning bonfires and all that palaver and just get out there and enjoy the glorious weather.

All it takes is a bit of sunshine and something natural and unspoilt to look at – and who gives a flying effigy about flegs or 'culture' or who goes home by what route?

I think the word I'm getting at is "perspective".

Lucky me that has the time and the money to afford to travel for two and a half hours by car to enjoy this other perspective. Product of two parents who in turn were the product of two parents each, all of whom had ambitions for their offspring. Lucky me.

Lucky me that was encouraged by those parents to read and talk and to feel that I belonged out in the big world. A sense of entitlement coupled with a big dollop of responsibility. Oh and being Catholic, a fairly hefty dose of guilt thrown in there. (Well it wouldn't do to get TOO cocky about yourself would it? I mean, let's not get hysterical!)

Lucky me that when I cried as a child and whinged and gurned and said "I don't like you!" to my mother, she didn't whack me round the head and bark, "Get outta my sight, you're doin' my head in!" or some equally disturbing command. She said: "Well I still love you even if you don't like me today."

Lucky me to have been brought up by people who, at least sometimes, tried to see the other person's point of view. Oh for sure we all grew up demonising 'the other side' to some extent. Where there was ignorance, we all filled the hole with prejudice, of course we did. But at the same time, through education and mixing with people from 'the other side', we were allowed to let down our barriers and soften our certainties and dissolve at least some of our prejudices.

Lucky me that was forced to study and get exams and achieve results that I didn't really care about at the time. Lucky me that I had parents who realised that to have choices in this life, I would need to have something to offer a potential employer.

Lucky me that I had two people who had the experience and the maturity and the selflessness to stick with me and push me when I needed it. They weren't my best mates or my drinking buddies or the ones who gave me a key and told me to let myself in while they were out with their mates partying.

Lucky me that I was given the tools to make up my own mind about things. I was allowed to step out of my parents' world and challenge their certainties and reject some of their ideas and bring some of my own to them. And through it all there was acceptance and love.

Lucky me that has the vocabulary to be snide about others' 'culture' if I want.

Lucky me if I have the heart to know when to stop.

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