Adjusting The Focus
NOW THAT WE ARE HOME, after almost two months in Ireland, there are some things that are obvious only now. We were perfectly comfortable there and had no “When do we go home?” moments. The one exception might be when it comes to food. It was a case of “Close, but no cigar.” It’s just a case of liking the things I’m familiar with.
There are plenty of places to get a pizza, but Irish Pepperoni is just not as good (IMHO) as the good old American version of Italian Pepperoni which is, of course, different from the American. I know, I know, none of this really makes sense. I’m sure that someone who grew up in Limerick would feel the same if they spent any extended time in Terre Haute – or Rome.
If someone asked me what was my favorite part of this sabbatical time in Ireland I would have to answer, “Being with my wife and sharing the experience with her.” There are very few people in this world who I could even consider spending 24/7 with for seven weeks. In fact, my wife, the lovely and most companionable, Dawn, is the only one I can think of (except for maybe going on a road trip with the SF Giants).
There are not many people with whom you can sit across the table over dinner and have a discussion about the aspects of The Holy Spirit and The Nicene Creed, the power of myths, and/or the beauty of a 6 to 4 to 3 Double Play.
One of my goals for the time in Ireland was to get a good start on a novel. Have I achieved that? I don’t know. I’ve started a few things that have potential, but only time and creative muscle will tell. I want to enjoy the process. If I have to drag every word kicking and screaming to the page it’s going to look like it. At my age if I don’t enjoy it – I ain’t doing it. If I can’t enjoy writing it I can’t imagine that anyone would enjoy reading it.
It is going to take me a long time to fully savor our time in Ireland. We went there with different goals and objectives and I think we have broadly achieved those. The true value will be in what stays with us long after the jet lag has passed and we are back into our daily routines. Travel like this can change a person. I don’t mean in such a way that I’ll suddenly start drinking a Guinness with lunch or want to install a “fairy door” in the house. No, seeing oneself from the outside and in an environment that, while similar and recognizable, is different enough to challenge the way you look at the world around you. What you may have always thought of as important isn’t so much anymore, and the seemingly trivial takes on added value. Part of that comes with advancing years I’m sure, but the lens of distance and culture also changes the picture. Getting it all in sharp focus is going to take time, but in the meanwhile I can look at the pictures and sit across the table from Dawn and share a memory or two.