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a whole lotta thanks

Last night I watched. It’s A Wonderful Life. I had not seen it before and hearing it is hailed as the best Christmas movie of all time, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

The film deals with the interconnectedness of humans, and that our actions affect others in ways we are not even aware.

Some 300 years earlier, the poet John Donne had the same thought. At the end of 1623, Donne suffered a severe illness. Donne was of the opinion – as were many others of the age – that illness reflected a state of internal sinfulness, and constituted a visit from God. While confined to his sickbed, he wrote his impressions and thoughts on his sufferings. These thoughts were printed the following year under the title of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and severall steps in my Sicknes. Perhaps the most famous lines from this work are from Meditation XVII.

No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

It is a poignant thought in these Corona Virus/lockdown days. We experience this enforced isolation in differing ways. I suspect some suffer more than others. I tend to be introverted and for much of my life have shied away from social interaction. I’m not very good at it. I worry I have nothing to say. I experienced the first lockdown extremely positively. I loved the silence. I wrote a book. I did many courses, one of which was with Deepak Chopra which took the idea of connectedness even further. Chopra teaches that every living thing on our planet is an equal part of the same whole.

Whole.

It’s a good word.

It comes from the Old English word hal which means entire/ unhurt/ safe/ healthy/ genuine – also good words.

Last Monday, I was surprised by an onslaught of connectedness. Since August, I had been contacting bookshops and gift-shops around the country, trying Facebook ads and Instagram posts hoping to promote and sell my second book – and all pretty much without success. I was beginning to worry that the book was no good. And then, all of a sudden, everything changed. An eight-minute chat with Joe Duffy from RTE on Liveline turned it all around. He was so encouraging and positive that within seconds of hanging up the phone I was inundated with with orders.

To be honest it was nearly too much. I had never had so much contact with so many people at the one time. Some people emailed me with lovely words of praise. Others rang me. It was extraordinary. I spent the next three days, making up books, placing all the inserts, packing envelopes, double-checking addresses. Then I had the challenge of getting all the envelopes to the post office. I don’t drive so I borrowed a shopping trolley from my local Supervalu and piled it up like Santa’s sleigh. It took two trips. For those of you who have yet to try it, pushing a shopping trolley laden with 700kg of books up and down the hills of a small town is rather difficult. Google tells me 700kg is about the weight of a baby hippopotamus.

I’m happy that I know how much a baby hippo weighs. I’m thankful for all those orders. I’m so grateful to all those people who reached out and connected with me – and for all the people who bought a book before Liveline.

Thank you one and all. x

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