They say we’re all a little Irish on St. Patty’s Day. This year, I have become seized with the peculiar urge to put on a bulky cable knit wool sweater and sit by the fire reciting love poems about rocks and mermaids, which my wife finds rather annoying. First of all, she says I’m pretending to be someone else, hence my reading poetry to her does not count as work-life balance, and second of all she says my attempt at an Irish accent sounds like an Orthodox Jewish Leprechaun. Plus, there’s the fact that we don’t have a fireplace, and lighting all four burners on the gas stove is not as conducive to slinging the Blarney as one might think.
Anyway, while reading the Wikipedia entry on St. Patrick’s Day , I learned a couple of key things.
1.Work-Life Balance was not an issue for old Patrick. He was devoted to only one cause, that of bringing Christianity to the Pagans. For his trouble, he put his life at risk on a pretty regular basis, and went without a lot of the time. Let’s face it, if you’re sleeping in a cave fighting pneumonia just to avoid being disemboweled by an angry Pagan, you’re probably not going to have a lot of time to attend parent-teacher day at the pre-school. And then, on the good days, having a hundred or so newly-converted folks bowing down to acknowledge how cool your message is could tend to take priority over, say, your wife telling you how good you look in that sweater. Now, some might argue that Patrick’s tunnel-vision approach actually shut out every other aspect of his life, making the case that his work-life balance was, therefore, way out of whack. This raises the interesting question of whether or not it is possible to change the course of history as drastically as someone like Patrick did while still scheduling cuddle time.
2.Here’s something else. Patrick is often credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland, but there were no snakes native to Ireland at that time, so this is a case of colossal 4th century spin. Now, if someone in this century could become known as the man who drove Paris Hilton out of Los Angeles, we might be heading for a spiritual renaissance.
3.In Illinois, they once dyed the Chicago River green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. At least, given the amount of Chicagoans who were consuming green beer that day, I truly hope it was dye.
No matter how you plan to celebrate this most Irish of holidays, remember that there is a man behind the cardboard cutout Shamrocks, and the shiny green plastic hats. And that man didn’t have time to deal with anything but his life’s work. Whatever you think about his work-life balance issues, I’m sure it would be gratifying for Patrick to know that his dedication is now honored by millions of people getting hammered and throwing up in gutters, while most of the cops are too busy marching in a parade to do anything about it. Now, faith and begorrah, that kind of freedom is worth sleepin’ in caves for!