Chances are that if you keep at least some tabs on my life, you’ll know that I got to hit up Dublin last weekend with one of my closest friends. And if you’ve asked me about it in person, you’ll know that a) it was hands-down one of the best and most enlightening experiences I’ve had, b) I certainly plan on going to Ireland again one day, and c) I probably learned more about myself in those four days then I have in these last seven weeks in Oxford. That’s not to say that I haven’t learned ANYTHING about myself in good old mother England, but the changes that have happened within me became much more prominent while in Ireland.
So for the necessary excursion portion of this entry…
The first two nights were spent exploring and diving into the Irish atmosphere. Our hostel (staying in a 12-bed mixed dorm hostel was a new experience on my end) was located in Temple Bar and conveniently within walking distance of the quintessential touristy places, like Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and yes, the Guinness Brewery.
We had no trouble making friends while in Dublin – I don’t mean that in a creepy way. For whatever reason, the people we met there seemed fascinated by our SoCal lives while we were in turn charmed by their accents and livelihoods. Literally, they could have been reading from a phone book, and I would have gladly listened to them speak for hours on end.
But for the final full day of our Dublin weekend, we hauled ourselves onto a Dublin Tour Company bus after about five hours of sleep the night prior, bracing ourselves for the 12+ hour day tour.
*FYI, as a seasoned traveler-in-training, I highly recommend experiencing both sides of a region’s culture – the social and the historical – when booking your trips.*
We basically rode across the expanse of Southern Ireland all the way to Galway, stopping at some scenic spots – Corcomroe Abbey, Dunguaire Castle, Doolin, and the main attraction – CLIFFS OF MOHER (not to be confused with the Cliffs of Moor from Wuthering Heights).
Thus we began the trek to the top. It was like a movie – but better, since it was my reality. I couldn’t believe that I was present, standing before the scene of my childhood/teenage daydreams.
Once there, my friend Emma (sorry Em, hope you’ll forgive me for publishing this) amused me with these first words: “I wonder how many people have killed themselves up here…”
Initially I responded with something along the lines of, “Haha, that’s your first thought?”
But as I looked over the awesome cliffs (I use the word “awesome” in the most literal sense of the term) where the waves struck boldly and majestically against the boulders down below, I thought about the ghosts of doomed lovers who threw themselves over the edge, the unfortunate souls whose horse might have led them too close to the edge, and the daring yet stupid tourist who tried taking a jumping photo there, only to be blown away by a strong gust of wind (I did take a jumping photo there, but at a safe distance). Even where we were at, the ocean spray reached us across a great distance. I mused to myself the contrast between the beauty of the Cliffs, and the danger they could pose as well.
A voice, in the manner of a gentle whisper said to me, “This life isn’t your own.” It continued, “You’re on this earth for a purpose; may your actions be wise so that you can carry out this purpose.”
For me that voice is God, but whatever deity you resonate with (or none), I think it’s safe to say that this piece of philosophy which was carried to me through the wind gusts is nonetheless valid.
I’ve made some mistakes – who hasn’t? None that I wish I could use a time machine to go back and change though, because I believe both my good and less-than-pleasant experiences have and will continue to allow me to grow. Yet I also know that some mistakes have longer lasting repercussions than others. I should hate to think of what might happen if I were to take a left when I was supposed to go right; my chosen destination guiding me in the wrong direction.
I don’t want to ignore the lady at the bus station without knowing the reason behind the hurt in her eyes. Nor do I want to make one day’s vulnerability the basis behind a sporadic decision. Each moment I’m consumed by the thought that I’m not “good enough” or seem to have no impact on the world, I must will myself to remember that still, small voice from the Cliffs.
I have no idea what my ultimate purpose is. The more positive side of me says, “Not knowing is part of the fun!” Sometimes that’s a frightful concept. The idea that this life isn’t my own can be a daunting thought. For me, my life is not only mine and God’s, but it’s also my family’s, my friends’, and the future people I meet whom I will later impact. I don’t want to fall short of whatever purpose I have to them by following my own selfish whims instead of my wiser inner voice.
This is not an echo of the reverse YOLO concept; that I should live life so cautiously that I will never run into any perilous situations. I will continue to live life on the edge…meaning that I will live with the yearning and practice of living compassionately, graciously, and boldly. Not necessarily fearlessly, but with the boldness that brought many a wanderer to – but not over – the Cliffs’ edges.