Yesterday was a day of travel. My Buddhist friends say, about most everything, something to the effect of “and herein lies the practice.” This is what I was saying to myself as I drove the Irish countryside, at once familiar and not so. Though fraught with white knuckled nerves, my journey was uneventful – in spite of monsoon styled rains. (It was overly rainy, even for Ireland!) But I managed with the driving, getting used to being the pilot of a strangely-sided vehicle. I must admit that being fully and constantly present in the moment is actually really exhausting when one actually does it for real.
We go through our lives on auto-pilot so much of the time. There is nothing quite like driving in Ireland to remind me thus.
This morning, there is peat in the air. I slept soundly and solidly for the first time since arriving and this has given me renewed purpose. There may be a visit to the beach today. Music has been elusive so I will just play on my own perhaps. One cannot push the plan. I hope to get the paints out as well, though I am disappointed with the medium I ordered to use as its drying time is a good deal longer than what I use at home.
It can take a few days to feel truly landed in a place. I am not sure I have quite yet arrived, but I am close.
Today it rains and rains here in Blackrock, as Ireland is famous for doing, and I am grateful that yesterday was the day for touring. My dear friend Simone had a work related function in Dublin and so we took the bus into town where we lunched then parted ways for the afternoon – she to her work life, and myself to take in some iconic touristy destinations.
Along my way I spy a couple of fevered protests. The first is in front of the famed General Post Office where the Easter Rising was centered back in 1916. Political protests have often happened at this site since that time, as it feels symbolic to the notion that perhaps change is possible. This current protest is by Kurds who find themselves here in Ireland. Their speeches are fraught with desperation regarding the atrocities occurring in their homeland just now and as an American, I am deeply ashamed of the recent decisions by our current “leadership”.
Further down the street, Extinction Rebellion is also holding a peaceful protest near the bridge over the Liffey River. If you haven’t heard of the Extinction Rebellion movement, you will. They too are desperate with their message, which is about the fact that we are running out of time before climate change wreaks a havoc we cannot stem.
And it’s interesting to me to listen to the talk of my fellow tourists on the street about their opinions regarding this “movement”. About how the folks participating in these events aren’t doing enough personally to make their message valid. That they might only be doing this for “attention”. Well, this is exactly what the powers that be want us to think. To so wrap us up in the guilt surrounding our own daily lives that we lash out at those trying to cause some systemic shifts in large level corporate and governmental practice. I think about how I flew in an airplane to get here to Ireland, and that I will fly some more in the coming months to do the work I do, and I do feel some guilt. But I also know I am doing what I can, where I can. Small shifts. I’m opting out of consumerism where I can, shopping only second hand for most things. That sort of thing. But at the end of the day, I live in a system that is largely out of my control, and Big Change will only occur on a large scale. Extinction Rebellion aims to force that change. I say good on em.
Eventually, I make my way to Trinity College, Dublin. The place is thronged with more and more tourists like myself. But it is beautiful regardless.
There is a wedding happening in the midst of the collegiate and tourist atmosphere which is lovely.
Ivy grows on on walls old and new.
I make my way to the Trinity Library where the Book of Kells is housed.
Over the course of the next hour I read about this ancient tome and how it found its way from the monks of olden times to its climate controlled home at Trinity. It is remarkable it survived.
It is almost too much to take in in such a short visit but I find the imagery to be evocative and inspiring. The work of these monks inspired an old artist friend of mine, Cindy Matyi to make her Celtic inspired works and much of what I see at the library brings her to mind.
Eventually we leave the Book of Kells display and make our way up to the Long Room of the library at Trinity.
Even with the crowds, the Long Room is breathtaking and I wander and take photos as best I can. I can only imagine what this place is like when the masses are gone and a real and genuine quiet descends once more. Surely the ghosts of Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker stop in now and again?
With another hour left in my solitary time, I head back toward the General Post Office to take their tour on the Easter Rising. I think about what those rebels risked for what they believed in. And how they eventually gave their lives. I can’t help but think that some people may have thought they were crazy for doing what they did at the time (much like some think currently about Extinction Rebellion), and yet most scholars agree that it was the Easter Rising which set the course for the eventual forming of the Irish Republic.
This is all history that I barely know the surface of, but I am grateful for the stories told which get my mind buzzing and contemplating the state of our world now. Countries still fighting over lands in other places of the world. Border tensions even here in Ireland are set to have some potential issues with a hard brexit on the horizon. The Troubles are never far from anyone’s mind here. Peace and prosperity are tenuous at best. We would all do best to remember that.
Our bus ride home is a rainy one. We snooze a bit and chat about the day quietly.
I’ll admit to being rather exhausted after a day in town. Today has been busy getting a few things sorted before I hit the road tomorrow to the West. I’ll be hiring a car and driving it which I have not done this side of the Pond in a good many years. But with a little parking lot practice today to jog the memory, I think I’ll be just fine.
The rain has finally stopped and so I am writing a bit here before we go gather dinner ingredients. There is time for a walk to the sea for some fresh air.
Tomorrow travels resume. I shall be in touch when and where I can, as my tech set up will get a bit wilder from here. It is a delicate balance between soaking the travel experience in personally, catching up and spending time with loved ones, crafting material for this blog, all while attempting to make art and music along the way.
But I am keen to try to do it all.
ps. Here is the Brian Boru Harp, also housed in the Long Room at the library. It is a thing of beauty….
Miraculously, I make it through a full day yesterday with only the one quick nap, crashing to bed around 10 pm local time. (After a delicious dinner of curry and catching up with Ireland based dear ones, of course.) Traveling eastwards across the Atlantic on a redeye flight wreaks havoc on one’s inner equilibrium with regard to time and so powering through this day is important. The journey was uneventful, if not a bit bumpy and I am grateful for a safe arrival and a lift here to the village from the airport in Dublin.
Today is a brand new day and I manage to roust myself out of bed while it’s still morning. The village of Blackrock in Co. Louth is seaside charm personified. We walk for a cup of coffee at a place called Rocksalt, where the latte is artful divinity. Out the window to the alleyway, we watch workers come and go, to and fro and admire an old Renault parked there. I think I might like an old car such as this, if I lived in a place such as this….
Though the cafe is crowded with freelance workers as well as those there for breakfast and conversation, it is still quite subdued and quiet. This is something I have noticed on other visits to this country, things are more quiet here. I can hear myself think which is really nice.
After coffee we step outside for the wander home and I take a quick snapshot and a few seconds of video to show you how very lovely it is here. (note to self on video with phone in future – turn the damned thing to the side!)
We have been greeted with a gorgeous day, complete with a bit of sunshine and a lovely cool breeze. I am not sure what the rest of the day will bring my way. For now, I am enjoying just settling in. Listening to the quiet of this workaday seaside village, hearing the quiet of my own thinking which is a welcome change.
It is my hope in the coming weeks to keep in touch with you all on the blog here, with photos and updates. I did, after all the hemming and hawing, opt to bring a few oil paints as well as my usual sketching supplies, so perhaps I’ll have something to show in that department as well.
ps, 2 months into this decade we call ‘the fifties’, and I am really liking it thus far.
Too fast paced of late. Frenetically crossing to-do lists off as if penance for up-coming traveling. Only time out of doors can check this process. Finally the temperatures drop to comfort level, leaving “hotumn” behind us.
October temperatures in the mid-nineties will make one crabby.
I find myself outside on a beauty-filled day. Collecting leaves, plotting a small hillside in the back for a new vegetable bed slated for next spring. Tunes wander through my head. I take a break to capture a bit of this ochered season with my camera. The old sweet gum tree in front is particularly lovely, dropping her petals into the main creek which is, miraculously, always running with a trickle even in the driest of times. There are little skimmers paddling along in their own little world, which I suppose they do with our without our observation.
I put together a slow paced little gathering of sweet gum and skimmers for you here. The music is used with permission and is by Nuala Kennedy. Once upon a time I did a little art work for the cover of the album where this track can be found. The whole collection is divine and if you haven’t heard it, you should.
It is my hope that in this busy time of harvesting and preparing for the darker days of the season, you too might find the time to settle down for a spell and take in the small wonders.