I just got back from Ireland late last night. It was an odd time of year to visit any place, let alone an island in the North Atlantic, and frankly when I stepped off the plane in Orlando, it was the first time I felt warm since I had left ten days prior.
I had a visa-related mission to undertake while there, so it wasn’t a pure social visit to the country of my birth. And yet it was impossible for me to travel to such a place without bringing my camera.
Much of nature was dormant as of yet and when the Vikings named my home town, they aptly captured the mood of the grey overcast and cold place they found awaiting them, as they sailed in the mouth of the Shannon River and alighted in Limerick (Luimneach = Bleak Place).
But in the middle of a misty day, I wandered around my Mom and Dad’s back garden looking for something to photograph anyway. I wasn’t going to let some Viking definition cast a shadow over my efforts to find beauty in Nature, dormant or not!
As it turned out, Mother Nature didn’t disappoint.
Her mist had covered everything with a gorgeous mantle of fine water droplets and if it didn’t look magic beforehand, it certainly did now.
From the newly arriving Snow Drops that littered the base of the tree where my Mom and Dad’s ashes were spread, to a nearby frost-bitten remnant of a rose bush, to tiny little wild flowers that showed their faces to the world just outside the kitchen window, to the wonderful moss that seems to have taken over a side path that my Dad had kept clear for decades, and even some blades of grass that did their best to gather as many droplets as they could.
There was magic with every step I took and wet shoes or soaked knees didn’t deter me from capturing it.
I have placed a number of the images at the end of this blog and I hope you enjoy them.
Meanwhile, it was the whole concept of mist that formed the basis in my mind for today’s thought.
You see, mist has always held a very special place in Irish hearts and those of us growing up there gave it a unique aspect rarely attributed to rain.
Yet if you type the phrase “Irish Mist” into google the first couple of hundred responses will be related to the country’s most famous liquor of the same name.
But dig deeper in the results and you will find references to the role that mist has played in the country’s ancient history. Thousands of years ago, much magic was attributed to the phenomenon to where general belief was that this was how the ancient peoples of Ireland (the Tuatha De) concealed themselves from the recently arrived Celts.
However they defined magic, their belief was that the Irish mist provided a medium for its happening
In the millennia that followed, mist began to be used as a symbol of untruths or confusion. When confused with fog, it became a mechanism to encompass even danger.
So, across the space of time the original entity that was hailed as a positive magical medium, had morphed into a negative and fearful medium.
This isn’t anything to to with evolution of language, so don’t just dismiss it as such.
It is all about the way our minds over generations have been shaped away from the spiritual and magical of the natural world and transformed into mechanisms by which we try to define good and bad and answer life accordingly.
The very essence of living life in the spiritual or magical past was that it allowed people to live in a manner that didn’t require answers for everything. While the knowledge evolution that has happened since has provided many answers to the unknown and has allowed the human race to develop at pace, it has come with a pretty severe price.
The wealth of factual knowledge such as the world being round, has proven to be astonishing. But it has created in us an innate belief that all questions should be answered. That everything has an explanation.
We seek knowledge and that is a good thing but habitually seeking answers is not. Much of life is without answer and in our craving for one, when there is none, we invent solutions.
The ancients invented answers that had different god for the seasons, for wind, for rain. And when these answers were challenged, they were met with genuine resistance and often an accompanying punishment.
Similarly, we invent a life after death at the side of some omnipresent power and when challenged, the heretics are often chastised or even killed.
On a global scale the search for answers causes chaos and wars as different ideologies battle it out in favor of their own answer.
On a personal scale, we must be careful to understand that not everything in our life is explicable. Why did little Johnny have to die so young, why does she love him and not me, why did he win the lottery and not I?
You can beat yourself up as much as you want and you will never find the answers. Not because you have a finite brain in an infinite challenge, but because in many cases there is no answer.
Sometimes, shit just happens.
Understanding and accepting that none of us are gods is a first step in finding contentment regardless of what life throws at us. Reacting and coping are the skills that allow us to handle them.
Embrace the mist and find your purpose within.
… just a thought.