A Poem for my Birthday

This is the rhyme that woke me at 4am on my birthday. Something had been bothering me for a while so it was a pretty emotional process. It was definitely fuelled by a touch of burnout having jumped from one project to another all year. The previous six weeks had also been a difficult time as my friends sons life was fading. There was nothing I could do for her or her family except send my love. I just kept busy with the economy project and life in general. I knew it would all come to a head at some stage.

I spent the previous weekend in Cloughjordan with lots of like minded people working to energise the Irish Environmental Network. It reminded me of monthly get togethers I’d been part of over the past decade where we could talk about anything and everything putting strain on our ecology and society. It wasn’t the same though as we had an agenda and the quality time of just drinking tea didn’t really manifest for me.

It’s not unusual for someone active in environmental protection or social justice issues to feel isolated. We often feel alone in our activism, especially in rural Ireland, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have support. Much of my support is online, through the networks of other activists doing similar work and within environmental and social justice organisations. I do have activist friends in Clare and much like the weekend in Cloughjordan, we usually meet up for an event or activity with an agenda. Sometimes we don’t even get to speak to each other at events. Time to just chat over tea is hard to achieve because we’re too busy being activists and there’s also the geographical spread. Note to self – I must convene a gathering at my house in the new year.

As for regular self care. There is strength in numbers and having even one person to sit with over tea and talk to about the difficult issues we face makes life a whole lot better. Someone who really understands the gravity of the situation and won’t try to minimise or dismiss it. Someone to share the load. This became really apparent to me when I moved to Laois and helped build a network around our cups of tea. Just chatting about the injustices you’re struggling with nurtures your soul. I know that really helps to keep me going for sure. I can clear the air and get up to fight another day.

So with that in mind I want you to know that I felt much better after writing, reading and chatting with friends about this poem. It was a wonderful birthday present. Enjoy 🙂

I miss my friends, the ones who talk doom
Those who share my gift of clearing a room
Where I could be open about all of my fears
Sharing solutions, plans, challenges and tears

When your thoughts aren’t governed by what TV puts on your lap
Often the only like minds are on facebook, slack and WhatsApp
Ever expanding consciousness of the state of the world
Unnatural focus as the truth is unfurled

Seeking the dark side as the sunny side is a lie
Can I pretend that those species didn’t really all die
Or ignore the plastic that fills up our seas
Watch as the bulldozers tear down ancient trees

Small talk is a challenge when your mind is consumed
With a reality that our ecosystem and humanity is doomed
When you want to talk action, change and shifting the gears
But everyone else carries on as they have done for years

Talking policy, pillars, SPCs and national planning
Climate change, over fishing, the flames we are fanning
It’s not on their radar and that is okay
We all have our focus at the end of the day

I am the sole inhabitant in my own activist land
There’s nobody beside me to walk hand in hand
Or maybe the like minds are too scared to speak
Worried that they may be considered a freak

Theresa O’Donohoe

23rd November 2017

Quote Isolation Carl Jung-page-001


4 thoughts on “A Poem for my Birthday

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