Through my own pursuit of happiness and by trying to shed the unhelpful habits that I have developed over years of existence I have learned some most unexpected things.
Much like when you take an unforeseen detour on a walk that leads you to the unanticipated and wonderful places that were not part of your original plan.
It’s an awakening of sorts and it changes everything inside you so fundamentally that there is no easy way back.
I have always questioned things, people and practices that have never really rested easily with my own train of thought. I have, over the years, relentlessly reached out for answers to my questions that have left me more confused than when I started out.
Even the realisation that such questions could not fully be explained never stopped the invisible cogs in my head turning.
Through my pursuit and my tortured travails I discovered the unconscious mind and the powers that it holds over everything that we do.
From picking up a pint on a Friday to parking in the same spot in the work car park, everything we do is driven by either conscious or unconscious thought.
The latter we don’t need the former for, and the former needs no explanation.
The unconscious mind however does, it’s an invisible place where years of conditioning have shaped our thoughts and thereby our practices and ultimately our lives.
I remember walking out from Croke Park after a Dublin were destroyed by Kerry in an All-Ireland semi-final. Kerry had scored 3 goals inside the first half and they left a humiliated Dublin to play out the inevitable until the final whistle was blown.
It’s time to be honest, I left at half-time, something I’m not particularly proud of. Such was the scale of the trashing that I left alone knowing Dublin were beaten, and another year searching for the ghosts of 1995 had to be cast aside for now.
As I walked up Dorset Street I passed by a pub that I had intended to drown my sorrows in, I needed some quiet time, just me my pint and my reluctance to accept what had just happened.
There was a TV on outside the pub, which would entice punters inside. I reluctantly glanced at the television to see how much more damage had been inflicted since I left, tail firmly between my legs.
English premier league football reflected back at me, this was my awakening, this was my point of no return.
How could a country or what I believed to be a proud city be showing a game from across the Irish Sea the same time as a game of such import was on only a few hundred yards away.
Surely they had switched at half-time, the same as me they had enough and couldn’t bear any more.
I quickly discovered that this was not the case as I opened the bar door and peaked inside.
A number of men wearing their football shirts of choice surrounded the TV, they swallowed their pints and their eyes focused on the English match at play.
I was completely dismayed, not because I thought that Dublin may have re-enacted the same kind of resurrection as Lazarus had achieved all those years ago.
It was much more fundamental than that, it opened a wound that consciously I forgot and moved onto the next pub but my unconscious was not so easy to let go.
I went home after my fill of pints and switched on the TV, like a masochist I wanted to watch the Dublin implosion one more time, just to feel sorry for myself once more before I called it a night.
The sports section of the news would commence shortly on RTE, our national broadcaster.
Again, I was left dismayed as the headline news of the sports section was led by what had happened in Manchester that day.
Sure enough the Dublin game got a full report but it was confined to the second report of the day, I was inconsolable, how had this become the accepted.
It was time for bed, tomorrow would be a better day, and a new dawn would begin to heal the wounds of that Sunday in August when, unbeknownst to myself my unconscious awakening had begun.
At the end of that month I went on a much needed holiday to Portugal, the Dublin defeat now resigned to a distant but bitter memory that I had moved on from.
I walked the sandy beaches as the sun beat down, I ate, drank and did everything that the working week and our own temperate climate restricts us from doing.
One evening I was sitting outside a bar, the news was on and I watched without any interest.
I sipped from a cold bottle of beer and let the evening sounds echo in my mind.
The sports section started with a local game of football, and finished with some Portuguese tennis star I had never heard of.
La Liga in neighbouring Spain had just begun and to my surprise there was no mention of the results.
Why would there be I thought as the icy beer slipped down my throat, they are a different country with different traditions and different languages.
My mind raced back to the RTE news and why the Irish who cheered on any international team except for England were all supporting their conqueror’s teams in the premier league.
How had this happened, how had we become so slavish in our mentality, was it a Stockholm syndrome scenario.
Imaging a scenario in Portugal where a large portion of the Lisbon population dress in Barcelona or Real Madrid colours each Sunday and swap insults at each other as they watch their neighbours football unfold from their local bar.
It sounds ridiculous, right.
It would be easy at this point to simply pontificate about the folly of our misplaced allegiances without trying to understand how all of this has become normalised.
Where did it begin and why has it become the norm. Republicans with far more credentials than the author of this piece practice this ritual most weekends.
Far from criticising I am struggling to understand the concept.
Sport and politics are two separate entities I’m told, not linked and not to be linked under any circumstances.
Ok, so why every November do we have to endure the embarrassing ritualistic practice around Armistice Sunday?
Why would the British army appear at British football games whenever the narrative fits if sport is solely sport.
Why are national anthems played and national flags flickered while the masses stand to attention at any given cup final day if politics is not intertwined with sport.
I suppose my question is why do we strive for independence when we are clearly not independent in thought as a nation ought to be.
What is it that we are seeking, is it Brit’s out except for Sundays and maybe Wednesdays or Thursdays depending on the European endeavours of our chosen English club?
Why do the masses criticise Irish league football without having ever watched a match or been to a ground.
Why does it rest so easily with us as a people to despise the English national team yet cheer on their squad member’s week in and week out?
Many questions I know and having asked them to myself many times I think I have found a reason.
At the start of this article I mentioned the unconscious mind, and it is on this phenomenon that I will end upon.
We switch on the TV we are bombarded with everything British, our favourite movies, soap operas, news and sport is all but a click of the remote away.
We have spoken English since we were able to talk and are almost embarrassed to let loose on the few focail Gaeilge that we all possess.
Music, even rebel songs are in English, it is an irony that is painfully true.
So what makes us Irish, what makes us different to our neighbours across the water.
Is it simply Geography at this stage, we have been so conditioned and broken as a people at this stage that a 32 county state, if achieved would mean little.
I think James Connolly summed it up best when he mentioned the removal of the English army and the hoisting the green flag over Dublin castle.
When I look back on patriots like Pearse and his contemporaries I now know what they were striving for was much more than what was taken geographically.
It was the things that the British stole without us even noticing.
It was the irrevocable scars that the unconscious mind has never healed from.
It is far deeper than we would like to admit.
It might very well be a terminal transformation that centuries of conditioning will never allow us to remove.
⏩ Conor Lynam is a campaigner with the IRPWA