I thought it would be appropriate to end the year with a story from the Metropolitan Diary in the Sunday NYT. A woman has two tickets to see the Chicago Symphony at Carnegie Hall when the person who was supposed to join her cancels suddenly. Doing something she had never done before; she stands outside the venue holding the ticket in the air and trying to find a buyer. A man approaches, they negotiate and eventually he buys the ticket, and they both enjoy the show sitting next to each other. She ends the story wishing him a happy 30th anniversary.
So many stars had to align for this couple to be together. First and foremost, she had to have purchased those tickets. Then her friend had to cancel. She had to have the nerve to take a chance and try to sell the ticket. Her future husband needed to be there at the right place at the right time and the negotiation for the ticket had to be satisfactory for both. Finally, most of all, they had to be compatible and eventually fall in love.
I think that most of us have similar stories about most things that have happened to us in our lives, good and bad, if we trace back the events leading up to whatever occurred. Being open to whatever life brings our way is a healthy perspective and may yield wonderful results. I’ll try to think of this story the next time my initial reaction is to turn down an invitation (or when my wife wants me to accompany her to a get-together where I don’t know anyone.) Hopefully, I’ll accept that invitation and be open to whatever results.
I want to send my best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2023.
Take care and stay safe.
We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland by Fintan O’Toole
Fintan O’Toole was born in the year the revolution began. It was 1958, and the Irish government―in despair, because all the young people were leaving―opened the country to foreign investment and popular culture. So began a decades-long, ongoing experiment with Irish national identity. In We Don’t Know Ourselves, O’Toole, one of the Anglophone world’s most consummate stylists, weaves his own experiences into Irish social, cultural, and economic change, showing how Ireland, in just one lifetime, has gone from a reactionary “backwater” to an almost totally open society―perhaps the most astonishing national transformation in modern history.Born to a working-class family in the Dublin suburbs, O’Toole served as an altar boy and attended a Christian Brothers school, much as his forebears did. He was enthralled by American Westerns suddenly appearing on Irish television, which were not that far from his own experience, given that Ireland’s main export was beef and it was still not unknown for herds of cattle to clatter down Dublin’s streets. Yet the Westerns were a sign of what was to come. O’Toole narrates the once unthinkable collapse of the all-powerful Catholic Church, brought down by scandal and by the activism of ordinary Irish, women in particular. He relates the horrific violence of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which led most Irish to reject violent nationalism. In O’Toole’s telling, America became a lodestar, from John F. Kennedy’s 1963 visit, when the soon-to-be martyred American president was welcomed as a native son, to the emergence of the Irish technology sector in the late 1990s, driven by American corporations, which set Ireland on the path toward particular disaster during the 2008 financial crisis.