For What It’s Worth

No longer bottled up

A red-headed Irish lad and two young French-speaking Canadian women will have an interesting meeting this summer in Ireland to discuss a message once bottled up for eight years and forgotten. But now, like a genie freed from a bottle, the message is building new memories for the trio.

The lad, 9-year-old Oisin Millea, was treasure hunting last October along a beach near his hometown, the tiny village of Passage East in County Waterford, Ireland, when he discovered a 2-liter plastic soda bottle with a piece of paper tightly rolled up inside it. He opened the bottle and withdrew the paper, still quite dry. On the paper was a message written in French.

“I thought it was a piece of rubbish,” Oisin told the Toronto Star. “I really didn’t think anything until I opened it.” His mother, Aoife Millea, 31, told the Montreal Gazette that her son was always searching for bits of treasure and this bottle with a message inside was a treasure.

They rushed home to translate the handwritten note, which they assumed was from France. So, they were surprised to discover that the message actually was from Canada and was written by two 12-year-old girls.

The message identified the girls as Charlaine and Claudia. It said they lived in Montreal but were on vacation in the Gaspésie in the village of Grande Vallée. They had viewed a TV show about people putting messages in a bottle, so they decided to do one themselves. The message asked anyone finding the bottle to write them and listed an email address.

So, Oisin tried the email address but it was no longer valid. However, his story created so much interest that the news made its way to Canada where Charlaine Dalpé and Claudia Garneau, now 20, heard about it.

The bottle they had tossed into the Saint Lawrence River had been traveling at sea for eight years before washing ashore 2,500 miles away in Ireland.

Oisin and the two women didn’t make contact by email, but they did sit down and have a chat via Skype. Claudia, who is now studying nuclear medicine, and Charlaine, who is studying interior design, were excited to see the bottle and the message, and plans were made for the three to meet in person this summer when the two women visit in Ireland.

“It’s really special, Charlaine said. “It’s something you see in a movie, but you don’t think that can happen for real. And that it was a child who found it, close to the age we were when we sent it. It’s like a dream.”

This is a charming story and a fun read. Certainly, it tops the glut of harsh and unpleasant news stories that abound on the airwaves, on the Internet and in newspapers. However, as I read the story, a number of thoughts crossed my mind and rather than bottling them up, I mused on them for some moments.

Just as the two girls bottled up a message, set it adrift, and forgot it, we, too, can bottle up thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and set them adrift, and, sometimes, forget them. But, just as the girls’ bottle with the message intact showed up, what we have bottled up inside us will show up.

For the girls, the bottle showing up is a fun experience or, as one said, is like a dream. Unfortunately, for us it is most likely that the thoughts, feelings and emotions we have bottled up are negative thoughts, unpleasant feelings and emotions such as anger. When these show up again, the result often is more nightmare than dream come true.

It may be fun and harmless to write a message, enclose it in a bottle, and toss into the ocean or a major river and wait expectantly for someone to find it and notify us. Then, we can marvel at how quickly the message was found or how long it took to be discovered and be amazed at where the bottle washed ashore.

But bottling up those negative thoughts, unpleasant feelings, and raw emotions and setting them adrift are not likely to result in a dream-like experience. Instead, the more likely outcome will be something we regret and wish had never happened.

The message the girls bottle up was not molded, wet or otherwise changed when it reappeared. But, chances are those thoughts, feelings and emotions we bottle up inside ourselves will fester and grow stronger while bottled up, making them tougher to cope with when they reappear. Better to confront and deal with them when they occur than to bottle them up and have them reappear unexpectedly.

So, write a message and send it off in a bottle if you wish. But don’t allow yourself to bottle up those negative thoughts, unpleasant feelings and emotions, such as anger.

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2 Responses to For What It’s Worth

  1. Lisa Hardy says:

    Great story…great application! ~ Lisa Hardy

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