Almost one year ago to the day I finally finished a book that I just happened upon while scanning the shelves of a local thrift store.
I was just waiting for something to jump out at me as my mind, in truth, really wasn't focused completely on the books. I was focused on memories of my Dad. I was also thinking about the upcoming holidays and how quickly life can change. It was just a couple of months since my father had passed and in that time I had managed to get myself a new job - A job that had so much promise. I was so excited, but just as quickly as the excitement came, it went. Within a week I knew the job was not what I thought it was supposed to be - it was a sham. What was I going to do?! I couldn't go back to my old job - someone else was already hired... I couldn't quit... Who could I talk to? Dad. He would know just what to say, just what to do. He was gone.
Standing there, feeling lost and alone the book I was, and wasn't, looking for appeared. It was called, Ireland: A Novel, by Frank Delaney.
The back cover read:
"One wintry evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller -- a Seanchai, the very last practitioner of a fabled tradition extending back hundreds of years -- arrives unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside. In exchange for a bed and a warm meal, he invites his hosts and some of their neighbors to join him by the fireside, and begins to tell formative stories of Ireland's history. One of his listeners, a nine-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the story-telling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again.
Ronan's search for the Storyteller becomes both a journey of self-discovery and an immersion into the sometimes-conflicting histories of his native land. As the long-unspoken secrets of his own family begin to reveal themselves, he becomes increasingly single-minded in pursuit of the old man, who he fears may already be dead. But Ronan's personal path also leads him deeper and deeper into the history and mythology of Ireland itself, in all its drama, intrigue, and heroism.
Ireland travels through the centuries, interweaving Ronan's quest for the Storyteller with a richly evocative unfolding of the great moments in Irish history, ranging from the savage grip of the Ice Age to the green and troubled land of tourist brochures and political unrest. Along the way, we meet foolish kings and innocent monks, fabled saints and great works of art, shrewd Norman raiders, strong tribal leaders, poets, politicians, and lovers. Each illuminates the magic of Ireland and the eternal connection of its people to the land.
A sweeping novel of huge ambition, Ireland is the beautifully told story of a remarkable nation. From the epic sweep of its telling to the precision of its characters -- great and small, tragic and comic -- it rings with the truth of a writer passionate about his country and in full command of his craft."
I bought the book immediately, believing that it must have a message in it meant just for me, from my Dad. (As it turns out, one year on, I could not have been more right.)
The book was a symbol of something lost. Having found it I held it as if it were as precious as a jewel. I had every intention of reading it, absorbing myself in it and just eating it up within a week. In no way did I think it would take me a year to read! It has never taken me that long to read a book. It didn't even take me that long to read The Hobbit - and I really struggled with that one... so much journeying over and through mountains! Sorry to all the Hobbit fans out there... I am looking forward to the movie.
In the year that it took to read Ireland: A Novel, I found that it became a source of comfort. Whenever I picked it up to read it was like hearing my Dad tell one of his grand stories again. It is my belief that this was the plan. My Dad intended that I find this book and he intended it to be there for me while I came to terms with not having him physically here any longer.
The message of the book was clear. Be yourself and follow your dreams - and your heart. Life and your purpose will fall into place. The last line of the book reads: "... a story has only one master." I, like everyone else, am the master of my own story. If I don't like it, I can change it. It's up to me.
What it was I was searching for as I read the book became clear. I had lost my focus and my passion for life and work. I had become bogged down by negativity - my own and that of others. In the past I had been able to shake off negativity and find new ways to be happy, to focus and to be passionate about what I was doing in life. I forgot to be true to myself. I was way off track... Luckily life has a way of getting you back on track - sometimes in very crazy ways. If you listen to your heart and your gut instincts you will be able to figure yourself out. The trick is learning to listen - if you don't, eventually you will have no choice as life can throw some fairly hefty or nasty things at you to knock you back in line.
Through the ups and downs of this past year, I have come to find that even the "bad" things that have happened - my cancer diagnosis, my poor job choice... have been blessings in disguise. Without having to deal with these troubling things, I wouldn't be where I am today. Happy - and, despite having Thyroid Cancer, healthy. I am happier and healthier than I have been in years.
Since beginning this blog a year ago and following my passion to write, I again have focus in my life. I am back on track and wonderful things are happening. 2013 will see the publication of my first children's book, the launch of a new business and... I won a trip (well the accommodation anyways) to Ireland because of my writing (my father's eulogy no less!) How much better can life be?! I can't wait to find out!!
Cheers to all for a very Happy Christmas and a joyous New Year!!!