A hundred yards ends up feeling like a thousand miles

There has to be a wall, doesn’t there? A safety net through which nothing or nobody should plunge. All fine in theory. When the black cloud decides to envelope the horizon, an umbrella the size of the roof of the Cusack Stand would be required to protect those underneath from the offal.  Those who are due utmost appreciation for regularly stopping by to peruse content here will know the favoured aspects of life one likes to fall back on. Chiefly sport and farming – in fluctuating order – and writing. However, where the challenges really arise is when the safety barriers themselves are so cut adrift that they become unreachable by solace. #Farming #Meath #Ireland #GAA

On a few occasions this year, possibly for the first time ever, there have been GAA matches going on which the heart wanted to be at – the spirit was as always – but the strength to complete conveyance to the location of said activity was marked absent and left yours truly crestfallen.

It’s been known to happen from time to time and, while it’s by no means liked, farming has always been the impenetrable point of peace reverted back to when escape and therapy from whatever the afflicting malaise happened to be was required. Which is why – with great angst – this piece appears before you.

Our farming neighbours started the harvest the day this column was begun. Normally, profoundest regret would be that the wheelchair wasn’t fitted with extra gears to get me out across the fields fast enough. Yet, here they were a hundred yards away and it may as well have been a thousand miles. I know if a lift was sought these wheels would’ve been deposited on site within seconds but that, to me, would’ve defeated the therapeutic purposes of such an excursion.

The inference that this corner displays more interest in the activities of neighbouring farmers than those at base camp tends to generate much banter close to home. Of course it’s only in jest, thankfully, but such was the state of affairs on the day the cutting of the oats was missed that even what was an unusually busy hive of activity about the home place felt as if it were on another planet.

It’s not only in terms of farming though. It’s that phone call you’ve been meaning to make for months, that text you’ve been meaning to send. Contact has, to some extent, and on my part, been shamefully lost with some of my closest acquaintances in the GAA and racing fraternities. “I’ll ring/text so-and-so tomorrow”, but the tomorrows stack up and with each passing one the task becomes harder.

Still, the day there’s no fight in the tank to tackle these issues is when there’s really a problem. That said, taking the conventional route to dealing with drawbacks was never going to wash here either. Enough of life’s odyssey has been spent docked with such givers of help – and the one with whom the most especial bond had been formed some months ago departed the scene. Opening up about and commenting in any form of detail about what weighs heaviest on the spirit is not done lightly. Indeed, extensive self-coaxing had to be engaged in for what’s before you to materialise. But this has been the medium which has served me best over the years and this offering – to employ a bit of rugby vernacular – is a much needed offload.

As much by way of self reassurance as anything else. Principal causes of what are currently the greatest travails could, in summation by defined thus: in terms of sport and farming, being close to – and to some extent actively engaged therein – but still feeling light years removed from it. Now, being honest, such pangs always bubble below the surface. At given times, though, the strength of the current pushing blows the lid off them.

When it comes to things away from sport and farming, immeasurable difficulty engulfs navigation thereof. Suffice to say it’s seeing others occupy a place in the world where the one working arm would gladly be sacrificed in order to park up. At this point it must be stated that such is not said as a means of bitterness or begrudgery. Rather, a perhaps never ending sense of longing.

It’s the hope, the dream – the famous dream to which former Galway captain Ray Silke alludes in A Year ‘Til Sunday – which keeps the ship sailing. Come hell or high water or low water, some of this year’s harvest will eventually be taken in. And as a photograph of a disabled farmer sent to me from England proved, certain other parts of life’s dreams may yet be attained also.

Now all that remains is to hear the combine coming into earshot again, and hope for a day with no black clouds…


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