A wonderful place for children
It is often said how fortunate an upbringing the children of the island have and I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I grew up in a small community, but there is something about island living that makes it much more unique an experience than that of my own.
In my high school civics class, community referred primarily to the geographical proximity of people. Other times it was used to describe relationships based on shared values and principles–like a religious or political group.
What defines our island community to me is how the residents have been able to accept and transcend the differences among its members (social, spiritual, educational, economic, political, ethnic, etc.) to support one another and work together toward goals whether for the good of a few or of many. There is a mutual respect and understanding on the island that, at one point or another, we are all serving as well as being served by each other. Public or private sector, seasonal or year round staff, self-employed or unemployed, yes, even the children serve often and in many areas. Wealth and age are not considerations in the giving and receiving of service to one another. And status is really unheard of. People are happy to serve, and generous with their time, skills, knowledge, and support. It’s delivered from the heart and most often without consideration of what or when they shall see a return on it.
We live in a world in which we are dependent on others; we cannot expect to fulfill our goals while disregarding others’ needs.” Dalai Lama
Sometimes the best way to appreciate something is to be without it
Earlier this week I took my five children to Galway and was reminded about this service from the heart, reminded of this advantage to living and raising my children here.
Going to the city is something my children don’t do but a few times in a year, for the youngest even less. It’s a big deal for them. We had a great day–movie, munchies, shopping, walking, playing–all in the warm company of the recently elusive sun.
The reminder came when we went to a national chain toy store. My eight year old decided on a €3.99 purchase, much for him to part with. The cashier took his money and as he stood waiting for his change she told him she didn’t have the one cent. He looked at me confused. I asked her why. ‘They are being phased out’ was her reply. ‘Ok, but your prices don’t reflect that.’ She was visibly annoyed, obviously not understanding the value of a cent found by a child in the park grass, the shop floor, or on the street. And this was not even found money, rather money he had earned from appreciative tourists by playing his feadóg (tin whistle) while busking on the island.
It’s a matter of principle
‘Tell me please, if he didn’t have the cent to give you, would you let him have the item?’ Without hesitation or expression she said ‘No.’
‘Would another register have the cent to give him?’ Probably, but we would have to wait as ‘others are waiting to cash out.’ ‘But our transaction isn’t complete’ so she offered him five cents, but with a just go away attitude, which he rejected sensing it wasn’t right. I seized the moment, and between he and I we gave her four cents, took the five cents from her, and left straight away.
The six of us talked briefly afterwards on how it wasn’t about the one cent as much as it was about her attitude and responsibility to the customer, the importance of good communication and a caring attitude (sometimes it isn’t what you say, but how you say it), and how that would never have happened on the island, ever.
Another reminder and inspiration
I always say the best part about leaving the island is returning home after being away. So here we were on the ferry heading in that direction. The same child asked could he go buy a snack. As I observed him choosing and paying, I recalled the evening before as I worked at the Hotel, serving the fellow who was now joyfully serving my son. This prompted me to look around at everyone on the ferry and consider their role serving and being served. So inspired was I that I mentioned my observation to a nearby passenger to which she agreed. That same inspiration kept me thinking, feeling a wonderful sense of pride of place, and prompted this post.
We are so often caught up on our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way. Appreciation is a wonderful feeling, don’t over look it.” Unknown source
Receiving and giving
The bus driver from the ferry to the city gave the children a handful of coins from his pocket to spend and they decided to give them to buskers.
p.s. Here’s a wonderfully articulate article that a young twenty-something wrote about her own experience growing up on Inis Mor.