This post began as a sort of tribute to Lourdes and my appreciation for the place, the pilgrimage and all it has done for me. As I finished up with my plan and read through my notes (That’s right, I do plan my blogs out even if it seems like they’re thrown together willy-nilly) I realised that this was a piece about facing your fears. Because I was absolutely terrified of going to the holy town in the south west of France.
My Godmother was part of a number of groups that went on pilgrimages to Lourdes every year during Holy Week. The Irish Pilgrimage Trust is made up of groups from all around Ireland. There are groups from Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Dublin, and many more. The groups bring nine kids with special needs over to Lourdes. It is a week away for the kids and a much needed break for their parents.
The aforementioned Godmother was part of the Limerick group and the Cork group for a while and ever since I left secondary school she was trying to get me to go. I fobbed her off with excuse after excuse, not really wanting to go. It is only recently that I realised that I was making excuses because I was so scared.
Exams were falling around Easter in college so I could never go. The fact that I barely studied in college and my results show this makes it quite obvious that I could have done something meaningful with my weekoff instead of stay home and scratch myself!
I suppose I was scared that I wasn’t good enough. I was scared that I would make a mistake with one of the kids and be sent home in disgrace. I hid behind my excuses and then, all of a sudden, it was time for me to head to America.
It is just over a year since I moved back and almost immediately, Mary (Godmother) was on my case to go. The forms were thrust into my hands, the pen was nearly forced into my hands and, not joking here, the forms were sent off without my consent. I was scared again. I kept telling her I might go and I’d let her know. I dropped over the forms to her and said I’d let her know. When I was told I was going I threatened to not go at all! I wasn’t threatening anyone but myself. I was letting the fear get to me.
Standing in Shannon airport departures I remember being terrified. I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach and just wasn’t happy. As I looked around I realised that while some of the kids were in their element, there were a lot more that were probably equally as terrified as I was. It’s always handy to know that there are other people absolutely shitting themselves at the same time as you.
I decided to smarten up and get on with it. I was in the airport and leaving was not an option. Plus, there was an absolutely stunning girl who was one of the helpers for the group. We chatted briefly and had a bit of shared banter about Limerick, where she was from, before getting on the plane. 8 months later and we are going out for five of those months, madly in love and I’m falling for her more and more each day.
Picture this? Great band. Every song sounds similar but they’re catchy so what harm! Seriously, picture this. I give into my fears and refuse to go on the pilgrimage last year. I stay home for the week and continue working part time with one of the lads from home and then eventually when the work dries up I would be back in the cinema. I keep working away, too afraid to go back to college or spring out and get a new job. I would probably be moving back to America as we speak or planning on it at least. I would be miserable. Instead, although I was given a hefty push out the door, I got on with it and had one of the best weeks of my life. I made some fantastic memories, had great craic with the kids and fell in love. I fell in love with the place and fell in love with K. She didn’t know it or hear it until months later but I can say, hand on heart, the moment we kissed that was it for me. Stick an arrow in me Cupid you creepy young fella, I’m in LOVE!
Why not go and book that solo holiday? Why not head to the festival or the gig? Why not take a chance on that guy or girl and stop lamenting your lack of a love life when you’re sat inside? Why not just take a chance and get hurt. Go to the gym class and struggle to walk the next morning. Admit your love of things. For once, be real with the ones who matter, and that includes yourself. You don’t get anywhere by staying at home, standing still, or watching the proverbial plane flying off without you. I didn’t mean for this to get preachy and almost like a ‘wellness’ meeting but face some of those fears. Not spiders though. Fuck spiders.