Feeling alive is harder than you think

Hardly a day passes without the thoughts of what it means to feel alive entering our consciousness, either when friends regale us with their adventures from the previous weekend, or through the media, whose narrative extols its virtues, surmised with a celebrity example to help make it feel within reach.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are not making it beyond the concept stage, and of those who do, the feeling is acute. While the thoughts of feeling alive conjure up connotations of exhilaration and joy, for many nowadays this feeling is characterised by pain and disheartenment, its feeling the only thing letting its bearers know that they are, indeed, alive. Far from a blessing, these people have the misfortune of knowing what it feels like to be alive every moment of every day.

You would be forgiven for assuming I speak of those whose lives are in turmoil as a result of a natural disaster or the dictator du jour in their native country, but you would be wrong. Those whom I refer to are instead our own countrymen and women, whose hopes and dreams have been replaced with mere existence. They know all too well the pain of feeling alive.

Their struggle is as valid as any you’ll read in today’s papers, as theirs too is a matter of life and death: not of the body, but of the mind. The mind, set free, gives those with hopes and dreams the chance to achieve their greatest potential. Without this freedom, they are but a shell. The feeling of failure, dejection, and helplessness currently being felt by so many Irish should not be taken lightly.

While a post-mortem has yet to attribute recession as anyone’s cause of death, the truth is that we walk among those every day whose new reality has left them feeling dead inside. The evidence left behind by their killer is available for all to see, and manifests itself in many ways. Shop fronts whose open for business signs have been replaced by hand written messages of submission, their contents known without having to be read. Ghost estates, resembling adult playgrounds whose users have been called to dinner, permanently: the legacy of those who gambled and lost, and lost big. These are the death certs of modern day Ireland, and the killer is still on the loose.

Those for whom this country has nothing left to offer have already gone, or are in the process of leaving. Those deemed lucky enough to still have a job face a different pain. Doing more for less, they are expected to walk around with a skip in their step, joyful in the knowledge that they still have a job. It’s as if we have forgotten a time when to feel alive was to do more than merely survive, and happiness was more than just the preserve of the celebrity. It was, instead, a feeling of joy and exhilaration that was available to all. Until those in charge can remind us what it really means to feel alive again, we will continue to be dead inside, and our killer will remain at large.

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