|St Stephen's Green, Dublin|
Sometimes deciding on a plan is as simple as hitting "submit" on an airline's website. Yesterday I bought a ticket for Dublin and so I am Ireland bound this summer. This will be my third visit to Ireland but my first time in the southwest of the country. I will begin my travels in Dublin, then County Cork and then anything is possible. Before I bought this ticket, I was anxious and depressed about my life and suddenly with an adventure on the horizon all that's changed. I now love my life again. It is with a bittersweet taste I realize I will be gone during some of the most beautiful Seattle weather and the garden will move on without me. So why am I leaving? What calls to me across the Atlantic? Is the thirteen hour flight with an eight? nine? hour time difference worth the trouble?
In a word: yes. Of course Ireland is a country of poets and gorgeous besides, but that's not why I go. I've worked in Gaza and South Africa, bartended in Scotland, monitored elections in Bosnia and here's the secret: I travel to feel the world more intensely than is possible at home. I go to see who I am stripped of comfort and middle class privilege. Of course just that I have the freedom to travel means that last sentence is highly suspect, actually wrong. What I mean is that when I travel, I connect more fully to a basic humanity. My mind is open to possibility in a way distinctly different from when I go for a morning walk where I live. There is danger and ecstasy possible in travel -- in the discovery of a sculpture or the sight of a mountain view.
When I travel alone I'm a stranger in the world. And really, aren't we all strangers? I travel to find myself lost along a Spanish dirt road or in the middle of a city park. I make momentary friends with taxi drivers who recite Patrick Kavanagh by heart. I go in order to challenge myself to love life with all my heart.