Two-Minute Daily Read

A new short blog published seven days a week, designed for reading and reflection from any stage of life.

benefits and cost of lockdown
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10. The benefits and the unknown cost of lockdown

Earlier this week I wrote about the difficulty of truth in a world where trust in all institutions is collapsing. In this environment it's easier for malign forces to stir the pot. Many of us learned at school that "nature abhors a vacuum"…
What is true?
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9. The difficulty of truth

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, I've grappled with a daily battle to find out what's true. It's been a series of recurring battles, and I've lost on a lot more days than I've won. "What is true?" is one of the biggest questions…
Pandemic essays: The redeeming power of poetry
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8. The redeeming power of poetry

When things get difficult, I look to books for reassurance. On my weaker days, I might chastise myself -- or, more accurate maybe, the voice in my ear chastises me -- for indulging in escapism when I should be concerned not about books but about…
Pandemic essays: The fear of the fear of dying
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 7. The fear of the fear of dying

A few days ago, in one of the first pieces in this series ("Becoming re-acquainted with death"), I wrote that I was no longer afraid of death. For years I feared death. It was a constant presence for me, a low-level anxious hum that accompanied…
Pandemic essays: Guilty blessed relief of lockdown
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 6: The guilty, blessed relief of lockdown

When you cast your mind back to the beginning of the global pandemic in the northern hemisphere spring of 2020, what are the things you remember? Fear seems to have no real place in memory. We do not easily remember the fears of the past.…
The Cranberries, technology and the complexity of place
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 5: The Cranberries, technology and the complexity of place

When I was in secondary school, trying to prepare for what was expected of me after the transition to adulthood, probably my favourite band was The Cranberries. They were a popular band in general terms. Almost everybody in Ireland, and very…
What do we really know to be true?
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 4. How do we know what's true?

My daughter will be 12 this year. All her grandparents are still alive but, as is the way for most people in most places, they haven't seen as much of her since the start of the pandemic a year ago. We never had to do the "happy birthday"…
Pandemic One Year On Essays: The Science of Habit Formation
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 3. The science of habit formation

There are a handful of books that seem to make all reading lists of the movers and shakers who talk about such things on social media. Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged comes up a lot. It offered a theory that saw man as a heroic being, with the…
Pandemic death essay Shane Breslin
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 2. Becoming re-acquainted with death

Dr Zach Bush is one of the most powerful speakers I've ever heard. His interviews with the podcaster and author Rich Roll are all worth listening to, but the edition from January 2019 was so powerful that I remember where I was as I listened…
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 1. Fear itself

I remember talking to an older friend by phone in early March last year. At that stage, the virus had arrived in Ireland -- the first case announced solemnly and fearfully on the news on the evening of Friday, February 28th -- but there had…
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A New Short Series about the Pandemic, for the Next 30 Days

A few months ago, I pressed pause on writing and publishing daily. If you're receiving this on email, thank you for signing up to receive short daily emails from me, and apologies for my absence these past few months. I had started the…

Two questions about role models

Something interesting happened in Irish sport at the weekend. Sam Bennett, the sprint specialist pro cyclist, won the Green jersey at the Tour de France, capping off his sensational performance over the past three weeks by winning the iconic…

You are not alone

You're not alone, and you're never alone. You might feel alone, isolated, removed from other people. That was true for many for several years as part of the increased digitalisation of life, where we are more "connected" than ever before,…

Learning to eye-smile

It's a new skill of human interaction: the eye-smile. Now we walk around in masks -- most of us, much of the time. With our faces covered, we find that the irreducible beauty of a smiling face is lost. Add to it that for many people,…

A few words about gratitude, and why we should say it when we feel it

When I was 15 or 16, and a thoughtless idiot teenager trying to be the big man, I said something cutting about my uncle within his earshot, and in front of someone else. My uncle was a quiet man. He was unmarried and the only one in his family…

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