It’s all about time. Everything is. Days, hours, minutes, seconds, years. Time plays such a key role in how we create memories, about how we anticipate them. We use and abuse time in so many ways. We rush from A to B to get there a minute early, then waste many minutes doodling or daydreaming when we get to B. We place value on time and then deride that value.
Time is a game played beautifully by children, but as adults we either starve ourselves of it, are dictated by it, or when we get it, are unsure how to handle it. Time is like an equal opportunities employer in that we all get a set and fair amount of it, but how we use those opportunities differs.
As you consume more and more time, you tend to take a mindfulness approach to it. Time runs like sand through your fingers, but you want to feel those grains of sand take their time and slide down the time-created lines on your fingers. You want to almost hear the grains as they tumble down your skin. I don’t take time for granted anymore in the manner that I used to. Now I want to feel every drop of rain, every bead of sweat. I want every heartbeat to be worth the effort. I want every emotion, whether it be pain or love or regret or elation to be worth the effort and each one appreciated for what it is. And if you do that fully, then the intensity of every emotion will increase. To do this, we have to appreciate the value of time.
We can map time through the creation of memories. This weekend we have a chance to make some marks on that map. Just days separate us from the hurling final on Sunday when two of our teams go into action. And so there is a time for basking. We can enjoy the days until Sunday, and when those days melt into just hours, our enjoyment changes to nervous anticipation peaking when the final strand of Seo libh canaig amhrán na bhfiann are heard and the roar of c’mon Galway goes up from the crowd. And in that minute, the final seconds of the countdown to throw in, you turn into a different animal. You stand up and feel yourself forced to clench your fist as your body reacts in so many different ways. And then you try to suppress that by sitting and watching the action, but the adrenalin of the occasion rises you time and time again, because then you’re into a different sort of time. Match time, when your mind and your heart and our body are thrown this way and that in accordance with the vagaries of a few dozen players trying to determine the direction of a spherical instrument.
Sport is a wonderful thing in that it is a very clear marker of time and memories. There are those of us who can picture where we were when Galway last tasted senior success. Memories of sunny Croke Parks, and dull Croke Parks, of All-Irelands won in the pre-motorways days, of late homecomings and celebrations that went on for months. Of the McCarthy Cup coming to schools and functions; the memories of players who were giants and who still are. Of Joe Connolly’s speech. Especially Joe’s speech, a moment that sent a chill down the spine of every GAA fan. Everywhere. It was poetry because it rhymed with the time and the place. And it lives because Joe looks as young now as he did then.
This Sunday will create more memories. Fate and skill will determine whether they are memories of success as they are the type that tend to last longer. We are proud of the young men who will represent this county in the finals. They have punished their bodies for the last nine months so that we can have memories like this. They go into this season climax full of the same doubts and hopes that we have, but they are different in that they can determine the creation of these memories though their wonderful skills and athleticism.
Me, I’m totally a wreck. I’ve countdown time to both the Mayo and Galway matches. The next few days are ones that will be fraught with tension and emotion, of hope and dreams and the fear of disappointment and the rare feeling of sheer elation. And with hope, I think of Jim Morrison who said that the future is uncertain but the end is always near. You know that in a set time, in a controlled period of roughly one hundred minutes, your emotions will have been fed through a shredder, and you have no real idea of how they will come out.
But for now, there is the basking time, enjoy the thrill of being in the final, be proud of your county, don’t be afraid to show your colours. Savour every second of the build up to the final and use the beauty of the emotions to handle whatever the outcome is. Hon Galway… and of course, Hon Mayo. Let’s do the west proud.