Our dreams get broken. So what?

In life “you must put your dreams aside and count your blessings instead”, writes Mary Kenny

I passed my dream house again the other day. This one-and-a half-storey home, built right on the seafront, represents to me the perfect, the utterly ideal home. It is a long, bungalow shape, but it has half a storey upstairs, because I once examined the interior when it was briefly on the market.

The half-storey was a very long, loft-like room which could be used as an extra sleeping room: I imagined, when I explored the dream house, gaggles of young visitors – maybe my children and their friends – bedding down there on high-spirited weekend visits.

The house has a garden at each end, protected by high bushes, and its every room is just what a room should be – roomy, accommodating to books and with a peerless view over the sea.

I must have imagined acquiring this perfect house during one of our many house-moves – five times in less than 20 years – but either it was beyond our budget or someone else got there first.

So I never acquired my perfect house: so what? Life is full of unrealised ambitions, and, as the late Lynn Anderson sang I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

I have a roof over my head, haven’t I? I can still walk past the perfect house and take pleasure in looking at it. Edna O’Brien said to me a few years ago: “I may not be able to climb Mount Errigal anymore, but I can look at it.”


The Americans are great ones for saying that “it’s never too late to follow your dreams”: this, I’m afraid, is well-meaning tosh. It does get too late to follow your dreams in this life, and you must put your dreams aside and count your blessings instead: or take joy from remembering the dream: or be grateful for the lesser achievements.

A couple of years ago, I applied to Birkbeck College at London University to do an MA in drama – a teenage dream I still entertain. It was somewhat wounding not just to be rejected, but to be told by the admissions tutor – an Irishwoman, alumnus of Trinity College Dublin – that I was “academically mediocre”. That was an opportunity to practice humility, though my first reaction was anger and fury. But now I think – so what? Maybe I am “academically mediocre”, but who cares? Many an academic writes unreadable jargon, whereas people are kind enough to say they appreciate and understand what I write. We all have our gifts, and we should be thankful to have any at all.

My husband Richard used to say that once you pass 60, the sentiment you most experience is disappointment. I now think this was too negative a reaction.

Yes, of course, there must be disappointment: as soon as there are aspirations, there are disappointments. But even disappointments bring compensations, interesting reflections and the remembrance of a dream.

As for that dream house? The salt air of the sea would sure have entailed high maintenance costs against rust and corrosion!


Trade in body parts

It has certainly been extremely distressing to read the reports about how Planned Parenthood has been selling off the dismembered parts of aborted babies: and how the established powers, including the New York Times, have defended this policy of profiting from an essentially cannibalistic trade.

And yet, there is one aspect of this situation which illuminates the case against abortionists’ arguments. If you are selling off human organs from a dead body, you are thereby acknowledging that the body in question was a human being. The trade in foetal parts conclusively proves the case that the unborn infant is a full member of the human family.


Difficult to be a perfect Christian

I feel desperately sorry for the Calais migrants trying to get to England and I know that a French Catholic charity, Secours Catholique, helps out a lot in “The Jungle”, as the tent-town in which they dwell is called. But would I take a refugee into my own home, look after him or her, and part with any of my possessions in that cause? A perfect Christian would do just that. It’s hard to be perfect.


Upholding principles with integrity

The Loyalists in Northern Ireland will be at full throttle again on August 12 for the Apprentice Boys’ March: and while these manifestations are sometimes troublesome and have been aggressive, at another level you have to admire the way these folk stand up for themselves and their own values. They are not ashamed to quote the Bible in defence of their religious and moral tenets. They are unafraid of the disapproval of all the fashionable people. We may not share their approach to many matters political or religious, but they often uphold their principles with a fierce integrity.