I put my mind to it

Antaine ó Raifteirí

In Ireland, with Bríd’s Day on 01 February, spring has come. The passage from darkness into light. And one of the best known and most beautiful Irish language poems and songs about this time of the year is Cill Aodain (Anois Teacht an Earraig) by the blind poet Antaine ó Raifteirí (aka Raftery) 1770-1835.

Tony Breathnach writes that the poet announces that with the coming of spring and the days getting longer that after St. Brigid’s feast day he will start again on his travels around County Mayo, visiting places he names in the poem. Once he arrives in Cill Aodáin and is back among his own people, age will drop from him and he will be young once more. You’ll find an Irish/English language version here.

Now with the springtime
The days will grow longer
And after St. Bride’s day’
My sail I’ll let go
I put my mind to it,

(Thanks, Catherine, for reminding me of this beautiful poem.)

Meredith Grey said in Grey’s Anatomy: You can waste your life drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.

Whatever I choose, it is unlikely that I will change other people. It’s about myself, not others.

Or, as Rumi said: Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Which is not too far away from W. A. Ward: The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

There is a big picture in the An Saol Centre with a similar quote: It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.

In summary: you can take responsibility and initiative, or you can go with the flow and stay within those red lines drawn by others. You can try to change others (and go crazy in the process), or you can change yourself and be wise (and happy).

The story of the Blind men and the Elephant once taught me how people can disagree profoundly about the same subject, just because of their different perspectives. Seen in isolation, they are all right. Mostly, because they can not see the elephant in the room.

Rather than wasting energy on the impossible tasks to convince ‘the blind men’, it’s wiser to change myself, to cross red lines, to adjust the sails.

Of course, I’m hoping for a movement, for something like Arlo Guthrie described in Alice’s Restaurant (warning: the song is from the 60s and contains some non-pc language) where he recommends to his audience what to do when they are examined to be conscripted to fight the Vietnam war.

You know, if One person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and
They won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
They may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
Singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an
Organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said
Fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and
Walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

And that’s what it is, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement

Let’s all go to Cill Aodáin and be back among our own people. Age will drop from us and we will be young once more.

Maybe even Forever Young.