Published: September 7th 2012September 7th 2012
I've been asked repeatedly why I chose Ireland for my adventure vacation. The short answer is, of course, 'why not?' Here's the long answer.
One song that came on my Ipod shuffle on the airplane to Ireland was a Taylor Swift song (go figure) called 'Never Grow Up.' I've never felt so aware of my developmental stage as I am now—that actually may or may not actually be true, but it sounds deep so I'll go with it. You can too. 'Never Grow Up' is about how simple and carefree it is to be young, before anyone anyone has hurt you, let you down, broken your heart. It's a reminiscence of those innocent days and a lament over the growing up process, speaking to the pain of it despite how hard we fight to grow up fast when we ARE younger.
Just being on this trip by myself I'm realizing—like today (9/2) at a random moment while walking to my hotel after checking out the Limerick train station—that I AM grown up now. That I've 'made it,' even if it all ends tomorrow, I've grown up and I'm of sound enough mind to be independent and at peace with myself. And really, that's all I could ever have asked for when I was young. This independent trip was exactly what I wanted for myself, what I pictured myself doing when I grew up. Challenging myself always, traveling the world, appreciating what I have, and treasuring and cultivating my relationship with God. I think travel is and will continue to be a great opportunity to seek God, finding Him and His love everywhere, in everything, no matter what country I happen to be in.
On the plane I read an article about contemporary Irish authors. There was an introductory section speculating about the things about Ireland that might have helped produce so many great writers. The article basically boiled it down to boredom, adding in factors like the rich literary history and already-established canon, the cool, rainy weather, and its fair share of economic strife. I probably would be driven to write more too, given being trapped indoors with nothing to do but to look out over the mist and rain. My eyes would soon glaze over and I'd be lost to the philosophical world. Also, if there was a lack of work in my country and I couldn't get a job, it would probably drive me to start writing more. Anyway, the article made a lot of sense to me.
The article also said that the Irish are good with using and understanding dark humor. Maybe that's why I find them hilarious—as do most. Their ultimate aim, however, is interpersonal connections—relationships. They love to talk, drink together, make music together, and share their stories. It's an inspiring place for a young American writer.
Rick Steves has a great quote in his travel guide to Ireland (thank you, Ms. Sharon!) that says, 'Travel is intensified living—maximum thrills per minute and one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is freedom. It's recess, and we need it.'
It seems like such a strange American thing not to take a vacation, or when we do, not to take enough of one. We might as well bring our Blackberries or laptops to the beach, making a phonecall or two into the office, check email, all while on vacation. Absurd, I say; that's not a vacation at all. As Rick said, it's RECESS that we need. And recess doesn't mean holing oneself up alone. It means 'unplugging' if you will, from one's everyday busy-ness, routine, hectic schedule, monotony—whatever it may be to you. We even need recess from our busy social schedules and just be free. Free to play, free to live, free to meet people and share a few stories—maybe throw in a Guiness too.
I heard once that it takes at least a week of true vacation (unplugged vacation) to actually unwind and detach oneself from the stress and cares that go along with one's work and home life. So, mentally, my vacation is probably still brewing for now. And I guess that's okay.