Ireland. The land of saints and scholars. The Emerald Isle. My wife’s homeland.
This country always inspires me, makes me think, reflect and grow. There is something about the spirit of Ireland that draws me in. Perhaps it’s the breathtaking scenery, Lord knows there’s tons of it. Maybe it’s the slower pace to life, the friendly culture, or even the fact that when I am here, I am on vacation.
I don’t know what it is about Ireland that draws me to deeper contemplation but every time I’m here I find myself thinking the same thing over and over.
Take it all in.
Don’t let this moment pass without truly experiencing it.
In America, things are different. Life is different. There is no time to stop. No time to breathe. My life in America is full of responsibility and deadlines. I write, I work, I study, I get the kids to school, look for a way to involve myself in activism, go to sleep, wake up and repeat.
In America my life is marked by business.
In Ireland my life is marked by solitude.
I know a lot of people think business is bad and I admit that it would be nice to have a few less things on my plate when I’m in America, but I find great value in everything I do. I generally go to bed very tired but feel pleased with the fullness of my days. This is in no way saying my life in Ireland is better than my life in America. Better is such a fickle thing to try and define. But they are…different…oh so different.
In America it’s boots on the ground.
In Ireland it’s pen to paper.
Sure I write in America as well but it’s what I see. I either write papers for school or I write my experiences. I love that. I enjoy both of those.
In Ireland I write what I feel. In Ireland the beautiful scenery and the spirit of the land beckon me to stop and consider what is going on within my own heart. I feel like Ireland says to me, “forget what you see for a moment, what do you feel?”
It is interesting to me how different I am in these two countries. In America, I am an activist. In Ireland, I am a contemplative.
Now that could obviously be because of the political atmosphere in the two countries or my lack of knowledge when it comes to Irish culture and politics but regardless, I think Ireland being somewhat of a second home for me is so important. I recharge here. I learn from the people and from the land.
I breathe deeply.
I listen to the holy spirits of the land.
I exhale creativity.
I go back to America ready to put my boots on the pavement again.
From the land of saints and scholars to the land of prosperity…for the few.
This all makes me think, what if Ireland were my home and America my second home?
My wife Karen and I often discuss moving here to Ireland. If we were to do that, what would become of my life in America? Would I begin to put boots on the ground here in Ireland? Surely there are injustices within all societies and living in Ireland would give me a window into those things and I would feel inspired to join the struggle for justice here.
But I wonder, if I lived here, perhaps my boots would still be on the ground in America. America is my home. I am married to that nation for better or worse. Even if I lived in Ireland I think I would always have an eye on America and I would spill a lot of ink sharing my thoughts about my homeland.
Perhaps I would be a better activist in America if I lived in Ireland? Perhaps I would choose my words more carefully. Perhaps I would have a better perspective from the outside looking in.
As for now though, I enjoy Ireland. I drink in the holy beauty and allow myself to really experience this magical land.
If you’ve never been to Ireland, plan a trip. Make it long. Take your time.
And don’t forget to breathe.