The Mindful Edge.

STORY.

Reilly spent much of the week living close to or on the edge.

It oscillated between periods of intense highs and corresponding lows.

His best ever Smácht meeting was flanked by two really challenging days agreeing the right candidate for an extremely important and high profile appointment.

By Saturday his head was so fried he knew he needed to head West.

West to Inis Oirr. The smallest of the Aran Islands. Nine miles off the Clare coast. The most western point on the continent of Europe.

Even getting there was not without its frustrations.

He got lampooned behind a big German touring bus outside of Ballyvaughan. It’s average cruising speed was 20 mph and then would shudder to a complete halt at the onset of anything bigger than a bicycle. 

Reilly was going ballistic. 

He eventually succeeded in overtaking it on the second twist of the Corkscrew Hill. As the driver beeped furiously at him Reilly waved back triumphantly at him.

He blazed into Doolin just in time to see them hauling the gangway on board the 11am ferry. He used every negotiating trick in the book with that ferryman to get on the boat. The ferryman wasn’t buying any of them.

And by the time he finally reached Inis Oirr on the 12 noon ferry all the bikes in the bicycle shop had been rented. That is, with the exception of one sad and dilapidated ladies vehicle that had seen better times.

‘Bainfadh tú deatach as an beauty seo agus tá an clog ag obair ar fheabhas. (You’ll knock smoke out of this beauty and the bell is working perfectly)’ said Neassán, the handsome and roguish manager.

And he did too. He took the entire weeks frustration and emotion and anxiety out on that bike.

He hared back through Baile an tSéipéil and Baile an Chaisleáin, past Teampall Chaomhán and out to Gob na Cora, where the wreck of the Plassey, immortalised in the opening of the TV series, Fr. Ted lies.

And all the while he rang that bell, frantically scattering slews of terrified tourists to either side. 

The vigorous exercise had blunted the sharp edge of his anxiety and anger but he was still tangibly on edge. He retraced his route with increased velocity and aimlessly, heedlessly and mindlessly headed west.

And he kept going. Back past the beach and up by Baile Thiar and out past an Mionnnán. Even when the tarred road gave way to a stony boírín with a grass verge up the middle he pushed man and bike for all they were worth. 

The bike surrendered first. He bounced the tyre off a jagged edged stone and the tyre deflated instantly. Impetuously he rang Neassán to sequester a lift back to civilisation but there was no signal on his phone. In fact there was no wifi service whatsoever.

‘What an apt metaphor for my life,’ he thought.

‘Broken down, lost and on the edge.’

He heard her before he saw her.

‘Aw shucks, not to worry. Better luck next time. Maybe you’ll see it.’

She was clearly American. There was no denying the accent. Or the sallow skin. Or the chestnut coloured eyes. You only ever get that complexion in America..

‘I beg your pardon,’ Reilly replied. 

‘The eel. You must have come to see the eel. You want to be healed. You couldn’t have found Tobar Éanna by accident because it’s not signposted.’

Gesturing to a tiny field that she’d just emerged from she explained.

‘It’s the Holy Well of St. Enda, the patron saint of Aran, and it has never run dry in living memory. Legend has it that if you walk around the well seven times, reciting the rosary, and look into the well and see an eel, that you’ll be cured of whatever ails you.’

‘And have you seen the eel?’ blurted Reilly disbelievingly.

‘I spent a week on the island as a student in Trinity over twenty five years ago and visited this well every day. I’d heard that Brendan Behan had done it years before.

Every day for three whole months he had escaped the contagion of chaos in his life and would visit here, and just be. He claimed later that it had been the most peaceful and tranquil and creative period of his entire life. 

‘The eel I did encounter that week however was a magical Irishman in Tigh Ned’s whom I fell impossibly in love with. He won my heart but then things got in the way and I let him slip through my fingers. Like the elusive eel in the well.

Love can be like that don’t you think? Mysterious. Miraculous. Magical. Elusive. If you’re not mindful!’

‘This well, and how it makes me feel, has never left me. I take it with me wherever I go. I vowed that one day I’d return here with my daughter to check if the past was real, or simply a mirage.’

After she’d left, Reilly skirted the style and approached the well tentatively.

He could have spared himself the melodrama because all that was there was a small well flanked on either side by a series of humble limestone flags. 

He plonked himself down beside the well and for the first time that week he surrendered. 

He surrendered utterly to the present moment. And sometime later, he couldn’t tell you how long, the eel appeared. In fact, it had been there all along. He had simply been mindless to it. He’d been too busy.

It lay draped on a bed of white daisies and yellow buttercups and orangey-red montbretia all over the field. It gurgled in the waters of the well that had been released from the darkness into the light. It coated his lips with sea-salt that was invigorating and tangy and cleansing to taste.

And it connected deeply and directly with him, through some Divine Wifi. Through the spirits of Naomh Éanna and Behan and Synge who, before him, had all created so prolifically and powerfully here. It was here that they were salved of their cares and discovered their edge. 

The Mindful Edge.

Back in Tigh Ned’s he caught her eye across the crowded bar. Beside her sat a stunning girl in her mid-twenties with luscious trestles of auburn red hair and the greenest eyes you ever saw. You only ever get that look from Ireland.

‘Did you see it? Did you see the eel,? she gesticulated to him with dramatic emphasis.

He nodded his head. 

She smiled knowingly.

LESSONS.

  • Make time to be on your own; and be silent; and still; and simply, be.
  • Find a sacred space, your own well, that you can escape to, and then imprint it on your mind, so you can take it with you anywhere and anytime, even in the loudest and busiest of places.
  • Believe in a Higher Power that is accessible to you every second of every minute of every day. It’s forever by your side.
  • When love shows up seize it with all you’ve got. Never let life get in the way of love.
  • Live life closer to the edge. The Mindful Edge.

QUOTES.

‘Wherever you are, be there.’
—Jim Rohn.
‘Live life closer to the edge. Things go faster there. The victories. The learnings. The discoveries.
—Pádraig Ó Céidigh.
‘The past is just a mirage. A soft illusion into which we escape, in order to avoid the present.’
Brian Friel.

QUESTIONS.

  1. Where is your Sacred Well?
  2. When will you take time to discover your mindful edge?

You May Also Like…

Decisions.

STORY. Reilly woke up dithering. Should he go for a swim before breakfast or after? And when he finally bit the bullet...

read more

The Cracked Pot.

STORY. The Cracked Pot. Many moons ago, there lived in the Burren a boy called Finn who’s daily job was to carry water...

read more