Some Scottish wisdom for St. Patrick's Day
By: Brian McLeod
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 06:00 am
My father’s birth date is only a few days away, a date I remember but no longer celebrate, as my father passed away many years ago. I also remember my mother’s birthday (Feb. 19), but, again, she is also no longer with us as well.
I was thinking of them a few days ago, and what came to mind was the number of comments they shared with me, all designed to provide me with guidance as I grew up. Now, Mom and Dad were of another generation, with highly different values and principles, so their comments reflected their own generation, and not the generation we live in today. For example, you will note when you read this article that my father’s comments usually referred to a man, rather than to a man and/or a woman. Men dominated the society of his generation; now the equation is balanced more evenly. But, while times have changed, many of the truths behind these sayings is as true today as it was then.
My mother’s favourite comment had to be: “Count your blessings.” As a child, I heard this hundreds of times, and I’ve tried to remain faithful to this philosophy. So many people whine and cry about their situation in life, while far too many people fail to sit back and consider all the positive conditions they enjoy, continuously. She stuck by this attitude and counted her blessings in both good times and bad, and throughout her life she remained one of the most positive human beings I ever met.
On the other hand, my father had a large variety of expressions, most of which I did not understand at the time, but have proven to be 100 per cent accurate, as I grew older and developed the wisdom to understand their meaning. For example, one of the earliest sayings I remember was, “If you want something done, give it to a man who is busy.” Initially, this made no sense to me, as it seemed to contradict logic. If a person is busy, why give him more work? Instead, give to the person who has little work to do. Years later, I realized the truth behind this cliché: a busy man can’t waste time, he takes your task and handles it quickly, while the man who is not busy feels no such time pressure, resulting in a task that takes far, far longer to complete.
Another confusing statement of his was: “Watch out for people who constantly talk about being Christians – as they usually are the poorest Christians you’ll ever meet.” Again, in the beginning I was confused, but after many years I understood. People who always talk about being Christian are doing just that – talking. The real Christians are the ones who do not talk about themselves – they are too busy being out in society, doing the good work that Jesus assigned to all his followers.
Finally, a profound statement that made no sense at the time: “She’s enjoyed poor health for years.” This made no sense whatsoever. How could someone enjoy poor health? Being ill is never a pleasant experience. It was many moons later that I understood his meaning. He wasn’t talking about people who are seriously ill. He was talking about those people who, on a daily basis, have a long list of minor aches and woes, and get some strange form of satisfaction from the constant sympathy provided by friends and family. And, no, this condition is not limited to women. I’ve met as many men who enjoyed poor health for years as I have met women with this same problem.
Finally, as St. Patrick’s Day draws near, I remember my father’s comment to an old Irish friend he had: “If they are so lucky, why weren’t the Irish born in Scotland instead?”
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.