in the words of the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh, in his famous poem “Ragland Road”.
God, I always found those words so sad, in that classic mournful Irish spirit, that speaks of irrevocable loss, of dark destinies, and of ghosts haunting our memories.
But there’s more to the poem than just a love gone sour. It’s as much about temptation and lust as it is about loss.
“I saw the danger, and yet I walked along the enchanted way.”
And yet he walked.
We make choices. Sometimes choices are made for us. Sometimes the results suck.
I bring this up in part because the holidays are upon us, and I have been reminded many, many times recently that not all of us are hooking up a sleigh to the Budweiser Clydesdales, for that trip to Granny and Pop’s quaint farm house, radiant with the glow of the warm fire, redolent of the smell of oak, and of fresh baked apple pie.
Many of us at Christmas or New Years will not be basking in the radiance of friends and loved ones, but more likely hoping there’s something better on TV than “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Many will be stoic about this, others will hold hands with the clock throughout the day and night, imagining they heard their cell phones buzz.
Ever since I first heard the poem Ragland Road, I’ve envisioned that quiet street where old ghosts meet. What a street that must be like! Probably darker and grimmer than the impressionistic painting above? Or maybe not?
Because that street exists only in our minds, are those ghost any less real? Can’t we all close our eyes for a moment and see the faces and hear the voices of those who came before, lovers, wives, friends, parents, brothers and sisters? Isn’t that part of what the holidays are about?
And if you’re not basking in the dim, flickering light of memory this Christmas, if instead you are lucky enough to be in the embrace of, not ghosts, but real family and friends , take nothing for granted.
Put down the cameras. The memories will not perish simply because they weren’t duly recorded in pixels.
We are all going to be here forever.