by Niall Doherty


How can anyone ever be bored? There’s so much fascinating shit to know about the world and much of it you can learn for free online. Today I found a documentary on YouTube about how plants communicate and think. There’s a tree in Africa that senses when it’s being overgrazed and releases toxins that kill large mammals. Wow.


Coming to better accept the ebbs and flows of it all. Like today on the way to the airport, plenty of opportunities to be social, talk to strangers. But I wasn’t in the mood for it, just wanted to zone out and rest my brain. So that’s what I did, without feeling bad on account. Opportunities were missed, but not every opportunity has to be seized.


We used to look at month-old boxscores in the back of FIBA magazine. Then we upgraded to refreshing the play-by-play every twenty seconds online. Then came live audio feeds and grainy video clips. Now we can sit and watch every game live in high-def from his living room, talking about death and sex and karma all the while.


Back home in Slieverue, the house I grew up in, climbed every tree and crossed every field in a three mile radius. Five years since I was here for Christmas. Who was that man, back then all vegan and newly self-employed and thirty-seven countries still to step in. Wish I could thank him for that journey he had in mind. It’s led me here.


A farm was handed down from father to son for generations. At the latest handover, the father told the son what had once been told to him. You do not own this land, he said. You are simply a custodian. You take good care of it and pass the land along better than received. I hear this story as we walk along a country road, past a broken old farm.

Irish breakfast.

Irish breakfast.


Jane Austen used to write in the family sitting room, often in the company of others and subject to frequent interruptions. I imagine she became adept at staying focused despite distractions, trained herself to dive deep in a blink. I think of this as I open a book in front of the television, rather than sit alone in the other room.


My earliest memory is visiting my great-grandmother in hospital. Now I’m visiting my grandmother in the same spot. And she looks much the same. Some day I’ll be there, too. Feeling strong in body and mind right now, a man in the prime of his life. But everything comes and everything goes.


Recently been thinking about how lucky I am to have lived this long. How many illnesses and injuries have I endured that would have killed a man a hundred years ago? Appendix as a kid, that severe bout of diarrhea in Kathmandu, maybe even that cut above my right eye.


Reading back over those last few, and they sound darker than intended. I’m very content these days. Earlier out for lunch with the fam there was sunlight coming in through a window and you could see all the particles floating in the air. It was as if everything was moving in slow motion, as if we had all the time in the world. Maybe we do.


I’m part of the lucky generation, old enough to remember the pre-internet days and appreciate how amazing everything has become, yet young enough not to feel bewildered by it all. As a kid, I remember getting a yellow dump truck for Christmas, about the size of a shoe box. That was all I got, and I loved it.

My grandmother's house.

My grandmother’s house.


It’s been a week now of doing nothing. In thirty-six hours I’ll be back in Amsterdam, ready to get stuck into the work stuff. I’m hoping this downtime will be like the pull-back on a slingshot, helping propel me through the weeks ahead. And I’m looking forward to the challenge. I can’t do nothing for long before that itch returns strong.


There’s definitely some uneasiness with being home, like part of me reverts back to the nineteen-year-old I wasn’t all that happy being. All in my head of course, but goes to show how getting away from what you’re used to can aid growth and change. That said, you can’t run from those old demons forever. You have to tackle them eventually.


Back at the sanctuary. Long nap to shake off the early flight and then I clock in. I pulled a few mega workweeks last June/July and methinks I’ll need to do the same in January to get these two products launched, the updated travel guide and the work online course. Sacrifices will have to be made.


One of Michael Pollan’s food rules: “Be the kind of person who takes supplements—then skip the supplements.” Because people who are health-conscious enough to take supplements generally don’t need them. I think there’s an analogy there for preserving wealth: Be the kind of person who can afford a big house—then skip the big house.


Realizing now that I could have staved off much of that uneasiness back home just by doing a few of the things I usually do, like exercise, meditation, and a bit of writing. Today was blissful because I did all those things. A little evening cycle through the park helped too, listening to Coltrane’s magic notes on solitude.


Not feeling all that reflective. 2015 felt like a stepping stone more than anything else, a year of transition. I’m more focused on what lies ahead, on the relationships I’ll build and the work I’ll do in the coming year. Watching endless fireworks from Museumplein at midnight, I feel a sense of peace and acceptance, like this is exactly where I should be.

Home is where the hearth is.

Home is where the hearth is.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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