“I’m doing finely”

You have read about Tad and Vicky who sent us the delightful booklet about their home and the community around where we will be staying.  They recommended a book “Twenty Years A-Growing” by Maurice O’Sullivan.

I love books.

I was intrigued by what they said about it.

So, you guessed it, I ordered it from Amazon.

It came yesterday.

Have only just dabbled . . . but . . .

It was written by Maurice, an Irishman and first published in 1933.  There is an Introductory Note by E. M. Forster who describes it as “an account of neolithic civilization from the inside.”  The book was written in Irish (Gaelic) and is a coming-of-age story about Maurice who grew up on Great Blasket Island about three miles off the coast of Western Ireland.  The Island is but 12 miles, as the crow flies, from Dingle, which is across the bay from where we will be for three weeks.

The book was translated into English by two people who include this paragraph in their Translators’s Preface:

The language, like the life, is largely medieval – vigorous, direct, rich in oaths and asseverations, and delighting in neat and witty turns of phrase which are largely lost in translation.  In this respect it resembles the speech of other peasantries, but it also possesses an elegance and grace which is due to its peculiar history; for when the clan system on which Irish culture was based broke down in the seventeenth century, the poets and scholars were scattered among the common people.

Ahhh, the power of language.  One only needs to read a small commentary of the Psalms to realize what is going on in the original language is so dramatically changed by our translations in English.  Be that as it may, we go with what we have and here is a paragraph from Maurice in Chapter One, titled “In Dingle.”  Be careful to remember the translators were doing their best to keep with the flow of the Gaelic . . .

When we were out in the field, the boys began kicking a football and myself tried to be as good as another.  But faith, if so, I did not do well for long, for a big, long gawk of a lad gave a kick to the ball and hit me neatly in the face the way I fell flat on my back without a spark of sight in my eyes or sense in my head.  As I fell I heard Peg crying that I was dead, and I remember no more till I awoke inside the school to see the boys and girls all around me and tears falling from Peg.

“Good boy!” said she, “sure nothing ails you.  How are you now?”

“I am finely.”

Which, of course, is the title of this post.

I am finely!

Oh yes, I am.

All our bags are packed and I am ready to goooooooooo . . .

And I am convinced even more than ever that the little stuff matters.  The little stuff in our bags.  The little stuff in our relationships.  The little stuff in our work lives.  The little stuff we leave behind in our dying.  The little stuff of innuendo.  The little stuff that leads to misunderstandings.  The little stuff . . .

In our culture . . . More Is Better . . . Supersize Me . . .

Today, I am convinced by Maurice O’Sullivan and his translators that attention to detail (the little stuff) matters . . .

and, yes, I know that is not really one of my skill banks.

It matters, none the less.

So I saw these tiny white flowers in the back yard yesterday when Patricia was cutting off the longish curls of my balding head . . . and decided I would try to take a picture of them for you.  They are smaller than the pin head I put beside a dime in this picture of O’Sullivan’s book cover:

The size of a pin head

Look at them . . . meditate on them.  They are smaller than that pin head.

tiny white flowers

tiny white flowers another view




Smaller than a pin head are these tiny flowers in our back yard.





If we are attentive to the “wee things” . . .  of language, nuance, nature, relationship, faith . .





I’m doing finely.

Published by philandpatricia

we live in Northport, MI

12 thoughts on ““I’m doing finely”

  1. Oh, my. What a blessing you are, Phil. We will miss your wit and your wisdom and look forward to reading your posts. Travel safely, and return to us refreshed and renewed.

  2. Dear Finelys: Did you know that one of Forster’s lesser known novels is titled “Maurice?” Yes the little things. I can’t take a picture right now, but we have these tall, tall flowers in the backyard. Their little, little blossoms are yellow. Cup flowers they are called–you may have seen them. They are cup flowers because the leaves grow directly from the stem and capture dew, as well as rain water, for birds to bathe and drinks in (poor sentence because of the prepositional ending). May you have your pronouns straightened in Ireland.

  3. Thank you, Phil, for sharing this blog. Thank you for paying attention to the little things. I look forward to the amazing attentiveness you will send back from the land of inspiration, Ireland! Peace and safe travels.

    1. Thank you Steve,
      Glad you are joining us on this adventure.
      Sometimes I see the small things . . . and often I miss ’em.
      May all be well with you and all manner of things be well, for sure.
      Trust our journeys will be woven in one way or another.
      I am grateful for you in the universe.

  4. A Celtic Prayer on your leaving:

    On my heart and on my house
    The Blessing of God.
    In my coming and in my going
    The Peace of God.
    In my life and in my seeking
    The Love of God.
    At my end and new beginning
    The arms of God to welcome me
    And bring me home.

    Love to you both!
    God speed!!!

  5. The sound deep down
    Lights up my soul
    The music I strum
    Like something I know
    The words on the table
    Your face in my head
    A place where I can go
    Anam Cara talks to my soul

    – obscure Irish poet

    Be safe and well.

  6. What a wonderful way to begin the day reading your wonderful comments, Phil. Sunshine with diamonds sparkling off Black Oak this a.m. with Scout ready for our walk. Can’t wait to read more . . . Hugs, S

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