Monday, 10 August 2020

Frank McCourt and the Feckin' eejit!

 As an immigrant engaged in the artistic world I’ve learned to look on the sunny side of life. And yet in these strange days even I have to battle the blahs and blues. 


Still, you learn some essential things from a life of uncertainty, the most important – you can’t make it on your own. 


It’s so easy to retreat into a cocoon of self–reliance. But that can often leave you alone – and, even worse, lonely.


At times like this you need company and with so many avenues to social contact closed down, it’s time to pick up that phone and get the flow going again.


You used to have so many friends but as you’ve gotten older the ranks have thinned. People have passed on or moved on. But whatever, don’t go through this alone. It may be hard to make the first call but you’ll soon find that there’s someone out there who is beyond thrilled to hear from you.


I’m not a big social media type but in this time of trial I notice that people are flocking to Facebook pages where they can interact with others who share the same interests.


One of those is Christopher Carroll’s Fans of Celtic Crush where people who enjoy my SiriusXM show gather. It’s like a family, occasionally rambunctious, but always welcoming. 


If you have an interest in Celtic Music, history or just things Irish it’s a safe and fulfilling haven. And there are so many others.


How about exercise? And I mean a little more than bending your elbow. Not that there’s anything wrong with a drink or two at the end of the day, it can definitely be a mood changer, and right now who can’t deal with a dose of that?


But I was actually talking about walking – the premier exercise, good for the heart and the soul. Besides, there’s so much to see in nature at this time of year.


Say what? You live in the bowels of the city? Well I lived on the Lower East Side for an eternity and could always find some scrap of green amidst the concrete and MacAdam.


Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Cornflower are blooming and waving in whatever breeze is blowing right now.


I don’t know why but the birds are singing like there’s no tomorrow. My favorites are the belligerent Red-Winged Blackbirds, but for color and delight the Cardinals and Blue Jays are hard to beat. 


As for Ospreys they’ve been on a comeback over the last decades. Take the A train out to Rockaway, stroll up towards Breezy Point and glory at their spectacular dives for dinner in the Atlantic. 


Wear your mask as much as possible. Despite politicians, or because of them, this plague is not going away anytime soon so it’s important to emerge from it with your health intact and possessing as many marbles as possible.


For that I defer to Frank McCourt who once stated, “After what I’ve achieved anyone who’s not writing their memoirs is a feckin’ eejit.”


He was right. I made a few bob with Green Suede Shoes – An Irish-American Odyssey, but more importantly, writing this memoir enriched my life, for it sent me off on tangents and took me back to places and people I’d forgotten about.


How do you start? Simple – anywhere but at the beginning. Make a list of the people and events that have most influenced you. Then off with you for an extended walk.


Take a pencil and notebook or even better activate the voice memo on your cell phone.


Note every inconsequential thought – soon your brain will be zinging with memories.


Don’t worry about looking stupid. You’re an artist now and beyond caring what every manner of lesser gobshite thinks of you. But I promise, you’ll soon be knee deep in your memoir and you’ll never look back. 


It may never sell a copy but your family, friends and stray acquaintances will know exactly who you are, where you came from, and what you stand for.


You’ll be so consumed with yourself you won’t notice the time flying until you’re strolling into your doctor’s office and rolling up your sleeve for the vaccine.


Now get cracking, there’s a new Angela waiting and she’s only dying to arise from her ashes!

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