Katerina Erlebachova, author of this story, is an expat living in Ireland. Even though the story is not related to the Czech culture, we believe it belongs on this site. It describes the world and people through the eyes of a Czech woman, who found inspiration while living abroad and meeting people that impact so many of us around the world.
We would like to thank you for the wonderful and inspirational story.
Liam´s present life
Living alone and independently in a small house in Galway, Liam regularly trains in the gym, does tai chi, goes swimming, and works with a large variety of therapeutic modalities. He flies regularly to London for chiropractic treatment. He is extremely disciplined in his diet which is mostly organic with a large percentage of those foods being raw and unprocessed.
He respects his own rhythm and does not interfere with the rhythm of others. He observes his discipline, has strong personal principles but does not expect to find the same in his surroundings. He also has the ability to appreciate the little everyday things like the good taste of salad, or hearing jazz, rock or classic music.
I have known Liam three years. His modesty, his sense of a special kind of humour and his way of being inspires me. Whenever I talk to him he always turns off the music he’s listening to so he can hear me fully. At the time when my English language wasn’t exactly the best he would sit with me and look up each word in different dictionaries to be sure that we understood each other as precisely as possible.
He never content with half-heartedness, he always had the patience to wait and then ask if I had really finished. At each interview he took time. When he talked to me, he looked me in the eye and always spoke for himself. If I remember correctly, I never noticed him use a cliché or complain about the weather.
In front of his house is a playground. Boys who play there occasionally kick the ball into his small garden. After that they knock on the door to be let in. I once witnessed such a situation, and when Liam’s head slowly bent down towards the boys to speak to them eye to eye, it felt like being in the fairy tale about a giant and children by Oscar Wilde. When I asked him how he does that, that the kids always obey him, he said to me: ´When you treat them with respect, they’ll reciprocate with respect also.´
In 2009 Liam has one of his cycling accidents. He crashed into a wall and was diagnosed with a fractured atlas bone (C1). After his release from hospital I met him on the street. His body was moving more slowly than usual. His neck was in a brace so that when he turned his head his whole body turned with it. I asked him how he felt. He told me with a very serious expression – which didn’t hide the unquenchable sparks in his eyes – that he was very angry because the doctors, fearing spinal damage, had removed his favourite cycling jacket by cutting it into pieces.
We could say that, just as the degree of temperature is named after the Swedish physicist and astronomer Anders Celsius, or the degree of an earthquake is named after the American seismologist Charles Francis Richter. Then a symbol for life energy might be called a ‘Liam’.
The relentless process of Liam´s healing has cost Liam, his family, friends and supporters, lots of money, time, energy and patience. If you are interested in knowing about his life in more detail, or in supporting him in any way, you are invited to his website www.liamcullinane.com .
K: ´Liam, your story is very special. If you could use just one word to characterize yourself, what would it be ?´
K: ´You were in France and also in Africa with the Legion. You have been to the Himalayas, Australia and many other places. You have a brother living in Milan and another in Hobart.
You yourself are a Scot livingin Ireland. How many languages do you speak?´
L:´English & French.´
K: ´You’ve read a lot Liam. Is there any one book you return to?´
L: ´Path of the Masters by Julian Johnson.´
K: ´Are you thinking about your next photographic exhibition ?´
L: ´Yes, but just thinking for the moment.´
K: ´How long did it take you to learn to ride your special bike?´
L: ´It was a year before I felt confident on Tom’s four wheeler which because of its great weight provided me with the necessary stability and support.
Being so much lighter, the tricycles place much more demand upon my balance skills, or should I say, lack of.
In the first six months of using a tricycle I did not sleep properly, such was the apprehensiveness generated by the regularity with which I was falling off it. But now, even though the tricycle I am presently using is lighter again than the first one I had I feel confident on it. But saying that – I am still learning !´
K:´You like to travel. What other country that you have not already visited are you attracted to?´
L: ´I like eating too. It’s a pity turkey is rather tasteless. But Turkey itself, is one country that has always held an attraction.´
K: ´You have proven many times that you have the courage to do things which we ordinary mortals are afraid even to think about.Is there something that makes you feel fear?´
L: ´I’m an ordinary mortal too you know – no need to put me on a pedestal. To look at fear one must look at courage too. These two aspects of human nature are intertwined; they depend on each other just as with good and bad. For me I find that courage is not only the ability to hide fear in the face of adversity, but to deny to myself the very existence of fear. Fear is a state of mind. I tend to marshal the mind, and not to allow entry to the state of fear. So maybe I fear the loss of this control; it maybe that emotional expressions such as pain, loss and hurt, love and passion, represent a threat to it.´
K: ´What more do you have to achieve? What is calling you as a challenge?´
L: ´Other than shedding a single tear last year, I have not been able to cry since bidding a final farewell to my dying mother twenty two years ago. I suppose that was also my last really true emotional expression. Getting out that solitary tear was bloody hard work !! Perhaps that’s another aspect of my fear – crying; my next challenge.´
K: ´Is there a historical figure you particularly admire, with whom you identify? ´
L:´Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca. The Western World’s greatest ever military commander.´
K:´What would you change in the world, and also in your own life, if you had a magic power ?´
L: ´Such power would ultimately be destructive. I’m only human and therefore incapable of wielding it appropriately; but it would be good to make falling sliced bread land butter side up.´
K: ´On the contrary, what would you like to leave the way it is?´
L:´On the contrary you say, I thought everything was changing !Iron rusts; all those mesmerizingly beautiful flowers decay; we humans degenerate, die, and go the way of those flowers – we rot. Science calls this the universal principal of entropy: where, when left to their own devices, everything in the universe reaches a state of disorder – a state of maximum chaos – in which all the useful energy of those things dissipates. Probably not such a good idea to go messing with such power, such immensely magic power.´
K: ´Your mother was a very important person for you. Can you say something about her ?´
L: ´Norah was a strong woman. She brought light to many.´
K: ´What do you think is the greatest wisdom?´
L: ´The Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello is a good starting point. His book One Minute Wisdom is a collection of wisdom handed down through the ages.´
K: ´What word would you use to characterise your future ?´