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‘How have I become such a slave to the media monster and its relentless intrusions on my daily life?’

I used not to fret so much about the problems of the world, but time has changed me; so thank goodness for the mindfulness meditations that land in my inbox every morning

I’ve decided to diagnose myself as a catastrophist and it’s not just because of the bloody weather here in the wild west. At the risk of being overly meteorological, the surges in my existential angst have been reaching force 12 on the Beaufort scale in recent weeks.

Imagine, I can’t sleep at night unless I’m listening to a political podcast about the latest horrors in the Middle East or the twists and turns of Donald Trump’s narcissistic attacks on democratic principles as he cynically manipulates the most disenfranchised citizens of the United States.

Indeed, a couple of months ago I sat up straight in the bed and shouted “Alleluia” when the Pod Save America boys breathed a sigh of relief after some Democrat candidates won midterm elections in conservative states, significantly because of the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Roe v Wade abortion legislation.

High on my priority list too is the progress of Ukrainian forces in repelling the Russian offensive, as well as any updates on the health of Putin’s nemesis, Alexei Navalny, incarcerated in a penal colony for the next two decades.


What is wrong with me? How have I become such a slave to the media monster and its relentless intrusions on my daily life?

Back in those halcyon days before social media was spawned by big corporations, I used to be lulled off to sleep by the meanderings of Val Joyce on RTÉ Radio 1’s Late Date. There was never any need to count sheep when he interrupted his eclectic music schedule and indulged in the particular peculiarities of a certain saint’s feast day.

Of course, that was two decades ago.

In the meantime, I’ve grown older. The fragility of life has become more real. My baby brother Dermot died from pancreatic cancer aged just 48 in May 2017, less than four months after his diagnosis. Then mammy died, a wizened leaf from the challenges of Parkinson’s and dementia in March 2018. It was Daddy’s turn then, in April, 2020, although he always said he didn’t give “a sh*t about dying”.

His passing was at the beginning of the pandemic, which, in some ways, seems a distant memory now. Well, unless you get Covid, which I did for a second time recently.

Now that I have recovered I feel lucky that I was its receptacle when it had mutated, has effectively become endemic and no longer as severe for many people. Of course, being a catastrophist, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared out of my tree. Well, I knew nothing about the fact that vertigo appears to be one of the symptoms now and erroneously thought my dizziness was my blood-pressure plummeting and that I would be found in my Marge Simpson pyjamas and pink fluffy slippers on the floor of my bedroom days after my demise.

All I can say is thank goodness for the mindfulness meditations that land in my inbox early every morning courtesy of Pádraig Ó Mórain, of this parish. It is called the Daily Bell and I’m sure it helps thousands of existentially anxious people quell and quieten irrational streams of consciousness, intrusive thoughts, precipitous fears.

My Mindful Days calendar helps salve the surges too. A favourite from one of its December daily quotes is by Buddhist monk and clinical psychologist Jack Kornfield: “We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night.”

Accepting this simple reality is the nub of the problem, isn’t it?

Thank goodness too that we can laugh at ourselves and that is something I’ve certainly done over the years.

At Christmas, I often laugh out loud at the scenes I’ve created on the salt-soaked pier at Roonagh as myself and the pirate princesses (my O’Malley daughters) headed out to the island for the festive celebrations. There I’d be, drenched to the core, making a holy show of myself, crying and wailing like a banshee, as I watched the ferry lurch and pitch across the bay from the island before landing into the tiny harbour.

Sometimes the crew would cajole me, other times they would just throw me aboard, figuratively speaking. Invariably, though, one courtesy Christmas hot whiskey down the throttle as we rocked and rolled through the waves and I was the one singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer whilst other passengers retched and ran for the gunwales.