Blog courtesy of Joanne Dowds (physiotherapist)
I am just finishing up a course…yup another one…perennial student yadayada. As part of the most recent academic adventure, I did a piece of work on social capital. It was a new one on me. Social capital is the networks and relationships between people who live or work together, that best allows the group to function effectively. I like it as a concept, because if I was to summarise my own talents, getting shit done is right up there. I like that it puts words and a framework on the intangible, messy, human bit of being effective, the ‘I scratch your back, if your scratch mine later’- relationships, reciprocity, offering something of yourself without expectation, the potential being of getting an unknown future need met. It is hard to measure, takes time to develop but vital for community. Like trust, integrity, reputation. There is a lot to be said for having dissenting voices at the table, for different opinions to be heard an incorporated it means more people are with you when you move forward. That less or no one gets left behind. But it takes a lot of strength and persistence, trust and social capital to get movement.
I’m not sure when or from where my interest in politics developed, I never used to concern myself with them/avoided it like the plague. Maybe it’s another thing I can blame on twitter- making it short, shouty, political soundbites, either engaged or enraged. Like other spectator sports it is involving and a whole body experience. I am not alone in feeling a few body blows at some of the turns the world has taken in the last few years. I’m not sure if I am getting used to electoral outrage or if my adaptive responses are more balancing. The period of anger, loss, before some degrees of acceptance and return to normal has shortened to a few weeks. Writing it down has helped me sort through my thoughts.
In some ways I wish I was a child again, way back then, these adult concerns passed me by. Then I remember my childhood in the 80s, my teenager years in the 90s, that version of Northern Ireland and no I don’t want to go back there. Life was small, narrow and safe. My reference points are more British than Irish, I never watched Bosco, I prefer Northern Irish Tatyo (less salty) and dairy milk (creamier). I find the tribalism around what school you attended amusing rather than the disturbing othering that happens with placing people into boxes based on their religion. I don’t have a tradition around the toy show, it is a culture difference. If asked I identify as Northern Irish if challenged I carry an Irish passport but history is muddy, it is only with time, the water stills and the river bed comes into view. I am northern Irish, I live in Dublin. Being from Northern Ireland brings a particular set of sensibilities, a commanding tone of voice and deep suspiciousness. I don’t trust easily or often, there isn’t enough distance for me from my lived recent history for some of the current news headlines. So how to I deal with that?
I’ll let you know when I find out- but in the meantime I will swing back to the self-care plan. Small things exercise, healthy food choices, getting outside, spending time with my good people, springtime.
And an understanding that doing what you have always done, will get you what you have always got. Change is uncomfortable but inevitable. I don’t know what is going to happen, despite how much I would like to – and I REALLY would like to be reassured. And I just don’t know that, but what I do know is that good people are in the mix. That trust is like a plant. It needs to be planted in the right environment to grow, needs sun and rain, to be tended. To be given time and a chance. I get all my best life advice from obscure philosophical sources so as Anna from Frozen 2 says, take the next right step. And mine is outside for a walk.