Looking For Ourselves
(being written on April 21st)
TO QUOTE MADELYN KAHN IN ‘BLAZING SADDLES,’ “I’m tired.”
While travel is wonderful and inspiring it can also be flat out exhausting – and I’m not the one doing all the driving. We will be in our next location for two weeks in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon. Two weeks will be most conducive for both I and my wife, the lovely and sabbaticalizing, Dawn.
Time for reading, writing, contemplating one’s place in the universe, looking to both the past and the future, and taking things at a slower and more restorative pace. This applies to both of us.
In my mind I am still little more than a kid, but my body, this shell I get around town with, is brushing up against my three score and ten on the calendar. My brain is still in the 100 yard dash while the exo-me is still on the Marathon course.
This extended time is a vital necessity for both Dawn and I. Her work fills up seven days per week and often 24 hours in each of those days. It’s more than just Sunday mornings, y’know. In a very real sense she carries the burdens of each and every member of the congregation. Carrying that load can tire out a person physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some people don’t understand that. Some don’t care.
This time is important for me because I love my wife and want to see her happy and healthy.
We have been to Ireland several times and Dawn feels very much at home here and going home to where you feel a welcoming connection can put the air under your mental and emotional wings and lift your soul.
While the city of Dublin is like any other place of comparable size – dirty, crowded, rushed and noisy, the rest of the country stops to breathe, sing a song, have a wee nip, and smile. That is what we are enjoying. As far as the “wee nip” is concerned the closest we’ve come is a small jar of “Irish Whiskey Orange Marmalade.” Not bad on toast, but lacking to make a toast.
What we find in the small towns and villages – the friendly greetings and warm and ready smiles, helps me with my creative efforts. I have to slow down to see what is around me. Across the road I see sheep on the hillside, but if I take a few extra moments I see more. I see the tiny lambs bouncing across the field. I see a variety of birds. I don’t know what kind of birds they are. The important part is that they are here and when I see them I stop whatever I’m doing and watch them. I find that this clears my mind and lets my imagination say, “What if…?”
“What if…,” is the key question I have to ask myself before I can put anything down on paper or computer screen. Things are what they are, but What if, this happened, or someone said this, or that? How would these change things and what would people do? And there you have a story waiting to be told.
Seven weeks may seem like a long time, but it is passing by quickly. This trip to Ireland is not a vacation – not at all. I think that it would be far more accurate to say that we are on a fact finding mission and that we are the facts.