So Leonardo finally won an Oscar. Experienced camera men caught the exuberant reaction of a crowd whose emotion is otherwise so tightly rehearsed. TV viewers clapped with pride, feeling a sense of ownership over this awaited award.
In his speech, DiCaprio encouraged action and awareness on climate change; ‘The most urgent threat facing our entire species.’ Whether the passionate eyes of the audience were furvorous as a result of this actor’s long-awaited award, or whether it was pride in his commitment to a cause greater than film, namely ensuring the safeguarding of our planet, it was clear that a blanket of respect spread a warmth across Dolby Theatre.
I thought about this speech as I walked home from the gym, and I thought about climate change and the peril that awaits our children’s children. I tried to imagine the environment that these kids would grow up in. And I couldn’t. I’m 24, I’m single and I’m earning €50 a week; propagation barely makes the appendix of my to-do list.[pullquote]I tried to imagine the environment that these kids would grow up in. And I couldn’t. I’m 24, I’m single and I’m earning €50 a week; propagation barely makes the appendix of my to-do list.[/pullquote]
When I hop in my third taxi to save my high heel blistered feet, hiding my empty naggin bottle in a nearby Whitethorn bush on a Saturday night, the closest I get to thinking about grandchildren is scavenging coins for the bathroom condom machine.
So often when we hear talk about climate change it is with reference to the future, to a time where a large proportion of us will no longer be shuffling the streets but shooting the breeze amongst the clouds.
I thought about this as I walked home by the Clontarf sea, and the sea, as it often does, encouraged me to spread the breadth of my thought. So I thought about her instead. The sea. Nature’s Valium. Mother Earth’s Ritalin. A body confident in its presence that does not demand attention but shares her companionship. An equally calming and energising friend with a sturdy yet gentle presence.
I once had a date by the Grand Canal and as we drank wine and kissed by the water, I exclaimed to my companion how we were personifying Kavanagh’s wonderful Canal Bank Walk poem. While my giddy excitement of embodying ‘the couple kissing on the old seat’ was not reciprocated, and probably made my date reflect more on ‘Kerr’s Ass,’ I’ll never forget the magical presence of the water that evening. And when I think about that poem and ‘the breeze adding a third party’ to the kissing couple, I am reminded of the sea. I am reminded of the lulls and gaps in conversation filled by the sea breeze. The whispered words carried in the ebbing tide and the angry shouts muted by the crashing waves. The word ‘awkward’ does not enter the marine dictionary.[pullquote]The sea succeeds in cleansing without sanitising. She does not judge in the process but rudely awakens the body and allows it to start afresh.[/pullquote]
While many religious rituals baffle me, the baptismal act is a powerful concept for me, even if just in the sense of a Sunday morning sea swim to wash away the gin and sins of the night before. The sea succeeds in cleansing without sanitising. She does not judge in the process but rudely awakens the body and allows it to start afresh.
A.A. Gill wrote an article a few months back about the refugee crisis. Overlooking the glimmering Aegean Sea on the Greek island of Kos, he writes ‘You wouldn’t know it had claimed so many hopeful, thrashing, gasping lives, but that’s the thing with the sea, it never looks guilty.’
This image has stuck with me, wrapped around my thoughts like a tangle of seaweed, because really, it is rare that the sea ever is guilty, yet she absorbs our guilt, swallows it and carries it to depths below. But some day, perhaps she will reach her capacity.
Climate change is, without doubt, a major challenge for future generations. But it is more than that. Let it not become a case of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds,’ but a matter of respect for a unique world and a gratitude for seaside smooches.