Saturday, May 28, 2011

And Sometimes a Ticket is Just the Ticket

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.


  1. Congratulations Susan! Your trip -- and your reasons for travel -- echo a story I just read in the Christian Science Monitor:

  2. Good for you! I feel the same way about travel. When I'm home too long I stop seeing the world as it is. Everything is familiar and after a while, dull. Traveling wakes up your senses, throws you out of your routine and forces you to look at the world anew, yes, as a stranger would see it.

    And I always find that when I return home, there are a few days (or a week, if I'm lucky), where I see home in a new light, too. Being away has changed my way of looking, at least temporarily.

    Ireland is high on my list of places to visit. Can't wait to hear about your trip.

    Go dté tú slán (May you go safely) and an Irish blessing for you:

    May the blessings of light be upon you,
    Light without and light within,
    And in all your comings and goings,
    May you ever have a kindly greeting
    From them you meet along the road.

  3. Thanks, Angie!

    It was such an impulse buy that I am a little freaked out. I just can't pass up a cheap ticket. Sometimes I think it matters less where I go and more important is breaking out of the everyday. I really appreciate your support. One day maybe we will be taking a trip together. I'd love to see Italy for you, for example...

    All best,