The Cast Stone
The words of nineteenth century American writer Henry David Thoreau have echoed through civilisation since they were first penned on an August day in 1851. He was an interesting man – a great advocate for civil liberties and the simple things of life, who passionately believed one had to earn the right to put words on paper.
Today, I’m humbled that the team in The Mayo News feel I have the right to pen an opinion column and while I’m very excited about the opportunity, I’m also a little anxious. To have my personal opinions, my thoughts and beliefs exposed for all to read is intriguing but also leaves one open to rejection which isn’t always nice.
For the first four decades of my life, I did everything humanly possible to avoid rejection. I never asked a girl out in case she’d say no. I never tried my best at school in case it wasn’t good enough. I never tried my very best at sport in case I left everything on the pitch, in the ring or on the track and somebody else was better.
I found it easier to hide in the crowd than step forward and show the true, vulnerable, powerful, different person I truly was. Therefore, putting my thoughts in front of you, the reader, is a challenge but I can hardly wait to get into the rhythm of it.
The name of the column holds a lot of resonance for me. The Cast Stone is a branding which can be approached from a number of directions. In my mind there are two particular avenues of approach. Primarily, this column will cast a stone into the pond of thought which we all paddle in on a daily basis. Some will agree with me, some will not, but that’s the challenge one accepts when opinions are exposed. Hopefully, the ripples will not capsize any of us!
Secondly, in building parlance cast-stone is a reconstructed powerful product made from natural materials. Personally, I love this description and many of us will probably agree that the lessons of life have reconstructed us into the powerful people we are today. We’re a mix of different ingredients and materials but we’re standing strong.
Some of you may have seen my byline in the paper for the past few months and I’m very proud of that. I can honestly say that my time in The Mayo News has been the happiest time in my work life and I look forward to the many adventures stretching out in front of us. However, enough of that. Let’s get back to talking about cast-stones again.
Today, I’m going to make an admission I have carried around with me for more than 40 years and of course it involves a stone. Take your mind to a sun-splashed summer day in the late seventies. Our home by the river in Ballycroy was heaving with excitement as aunts, uncles and cousins from Canada and many corners of England enjoyed the beauty and brilliance of a perfect day.
As always, the cousins were immersed in the pristine waters of the river. Some of us were paddling; others were making dams so their dolls could sunbathe in peace and tranquility; the budding scientists among us were observing flies and frogs while most of s were skipping stones across the surface.
As an adult, I realise this was an accident waiting to happen, but back then danger was just a six-letter word of little importance.
I was in the middle of the group skipping stones. I could make stones dance across the surface all the way to the other side, but suddenly one of the cousins slipped and fell into the water.
I was temporarily distracted by the shrieks and the laughter and cast my next stone without having full control. It left my hand, flew through the air and connected with the head of my sister Majella. Thankfully, it was a small stone, but it left a mark and blood was soon pouring from her head.
In the mayhem which followed, nobody asked who cast the stone, nobody admitted casting the stone and the perpetrator escaped justice until today! Always be wary when casting a stone!