Recently, I’ve had a string of very good days. Some of them were good because something spectacular was going on around me; Body&Soul, driving across Germany, graduating from UCD. These days are always fantastic because they’re new, and exciting, and stimulating. They’re the big ones that’ll no doubt stand out in my mind when I’m an old man looking back on it all. These are the kind of good days I’m used to. They’re easily quantifiable, that day at Body & soul was good because I danced in a sunny field for hours, Electric Picnic was good because I managed to see five of my new favourite acts in as many hours.
Within the last week though, I had a day which stands out in a different way. It wasn’t particularly loud, or particularly exciting. In-fact quite the opposite, it was quiet and intimate. My day was spent lying in bed, with someone about whom I care very much, listening to records and talking about this and that and a bit of the other. While the day itself was an occasion, there was something really striking about how routine it was. All in all, it was really rather therapeutic. In-fact, thinking back on it, I don’t recall ever having experienced anything where I did so little but enjoyed myself so much.
In a lot of ways this day was an about turn on the way I tend to live my life. I’m the kind of person who always has just a touch too much on his plate. If I’m not busy, I’m bored and if I’m bored, I’m wasting time. This can be good in many ways as it means there’s always something to motivate me to keep going, to bounce from one thing to another. Realistically however, I’ve been at this for almost five years with very little pause. Between college, work, family and volunteering, it’s as though I actively been avoiding taking any time off.
I’ve been reminded of a quote from Stephen Fry which strikes me as being very relevant. In his autobiography, The Fry Chronicles, he ascribes the moments of greatest value in his own university experience as being outside the classroom. He says, that “Education is the sum of what students teach each other in between lectures and seminars. You sit in each other’s rooms and drink coffee – I suppose it would be vodka and Red Bull now – you share enthusiasms, you talk a lot of wank about politics, religion, art and the cosmos and then you go to bed, alone or together according to taste. I mean, how else do you learn anything, how else do you take your mind for a walk?”
And he’s very right. In my last editorial, I wrote about getting involved, taking on too much and relishing it. I still feel this is good advice, but in the fortnight between then and now, I’ve had a taste of what inspired that quote, and it was fantastic. So while you’re rushing from one thing to the next, with a little too much to do and not enough time to do it in, keep an eye out for one of these days on the horizon, and grab it if it comes near.
- Seán O’Reilly, Editor