When I was a young boy, growing up in Limerick, I held the world in typical childish wonder.
A six or seven mile ride on the bicycle took me out to an old ruins called Carraig Ui gConnaill and took me back in time a thousand years.
So, last week, finding myself back in Ireland, Inna and I found ourselves back out at the same old ruins and my boyhood memories came rushing back in.
I hadn’t forgotten anything physical of the place; in fact I have used the ruins in a chapter of my book and they are exactly as I have remembered them to be.
But what I did forget was the feeling … the absolute awe as you stand there locked amongst crumbly old walls that have seen over a thousand years of people like me standing in its courtyard.
Though these ruins are about a thousand years old, there were buildings before then that occupied that same vantage point with a view that stretches out for miles and miles in all direction. By all accounts, this rock (that’s what the word Carraig means) was home to prior settlements as far back as 1,000 BC
Typically Ireland, these ruins are not maintained and a country so rich in ancient heritage seems happy to let yet another piece of its history get overgrown and derelict.
The approach to the ruins from the north face (with your back to the river Shannon) was particularly daunting and we failed to scale its height. We could only imagine what a wonderful defense it had from invaders making that approach.
So, we drove around to the south side and found a road that warned off would-be visitors with threatening “private road” signs that made us feel more than unwelcome.
But it was worth taking the chance of confrontation and soon we found ourselves inside the old courtyard and exploring the crumbling structure that remained.
I took a number of shots (attached a few here at the end of the blog) of some of the remaining building and an upward view within what used to be a tower with spiral staircase. There is also a shot of the view from the north wall towards the distant Shannon River. I hope you enjoy.
The visit left me with so many thoughts. I reminisced that my Mam and Dad used to cycle out there when they were dating back in the late 1940’s. They told me of some lovely picnics they had out there and it makes me happy to think I was someplace that they were when none of us kids were more than a twinkle in their eyes.
This made me think of the dreams that they might have had at the time and how close to their reality, their lives fully realized. Whether their dreams were modest or not, their lives played out under the glare of a huge love and from my perspective, at least, it looked to me that they must surely have achieved more in life than they could possibly have imagined.
On the back of a sixty-odd year marriage and living more than half of that in a comfortable and very special home, they exited the world within a few years of each other, a few years back.
So, I tried to recall what my own dreams might have been, as I cycled out to those same ruins a million years ago. Did I imagine a life that would play out the way it has? Did I dream for something bigger or better? Who knows.
Those memories have gone with the winds of time, so I can’t sit here and imagine what I was thinking when I was eleven years old.
I can’t imagine though that any dreams I had left me living out my life here in Florida, or that I would develop so many flaws and shortcomings that made my walk-on-water days of youth, seem an almost comical fancy.
In fact, once of the greatest gifts that time gives us is the ability to see through our own smoke-screen and understand ourselves, our limitations, and our flaws.
Time can be a humbling experience, if we let it. It gives us the breadth of insight on how we have developed; areas that we have grown in and areas that we have failed in.
We don’t have to question our eleven-year-old selves. We only have to look back at a block of time five or ten years past and ask ourselves how we have measured up against what we imagined for ourselves back then.
A common interview question is “where do you see yourself in five years?” and so it is quite realistic to ask that same question of ourselves looking back that same five years.
Where did we see ourselves back then? And are we there yet?
The simple truth is that if we aren’t where we thought we would be five years ago, then there is something wrong. Either we imagined our future incorrectly based on an incorrect view of our prospects, or something happened that has distracted us away from our intended goal.
It is an important knowledge to have of oneself; the knowledge of who we are and where we are heading in life. Without that knowledge we can dramatically overestimate ourselves and end up on our death beds full of remorse at things we didn’t achieve or goals that were left incomplete.
I ask myself repeatedly who I am. Depending on my mood, I will often end up being highly self-critical and while that may sound deprecating, it really isn’t. It is our desire to improve ourselves that oftentimes leads us to our greatest growth.
If we already see ourselves as perfect, then quite frankly, our growth will likely be stunted.
There are those who do see themselves as perfect. You only have to look at the dotard and his cronies in the red politics world. But unless your father gave you millions to run at life with, then that version of self-belief normally leads to a rude awakening for you.
I guess what I am trying to say in this blog is that our dreams are a good thing that can give our course some initial direction. We need to chart that course, with an accurate assessment of who exactly is following this course and in so doing, we will most likely achieve life’s greatest goal.
That is the one thing that we should all live our lives in hope of. If we can find that, then howsoever we do, our goals and our inner selves have been correctly aligned.
… just a thought!