Reflections on Our Return from Ireland

So, trying to process what just happened, as well as intermittent quiet moments on the bus thoughts, as well as tomorrow’s re-entry to work world. I feel like I need a 2-3 month sabbatical to get my thoughts and life sorted out.

I’m back from Ireland. We did a Rick Steves tour around the island. It hit so much, and there seemed to be more and more packed into each day until at the end, there was sometimes three or four days worth of things to do packed into a single day. It was good, but somewhat intense. E.g., Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Carrick-A-Rede ropebridge, and Dunluce Castle all in one day? And then there were days where we only did a few things (stop by Yeats’ grave, walking tour of Derry’s medieval wall & brief explanation of Northern Irelands “Troubles” OR the day we did both Titanic and had a quick drive past the “peace” wall in Belfast and through those areas), but which demanded more processing and reflection.

Things that stand out in reflection –

  • How close all the buildings are together. And how close all the graves are too. Sometimes things seem to be practically on top of each other, they’re so close together.
  • How rocky and desolate the western part is. There are places where people were building stone walls, just to put the rocks somewhere so they can clear some useful space. And yet – not lifeless– there is life in those cracks. In the Burren, in the grikes, the cracks between the rocks, there are plants happily growing away. What at first glance seems to be totally barren, supports all kinds of life. It stretches so far that as you drive through, it’s easy to forget that it isn’t all rock and rock fences, so it’s a bit of a surprise when it starts ending and hedgerows start appearing again.
  • And how the green is so green after the grey of the limestone.
  • That people are ingenious in their ability & drive to find solutions that will allow them to live. That they are likewise so ruthless in their drive to overcome both nature and people who might stand in their way in both the name of survival as well as in the name of ideology.

So much more to contemplate. I went, sort of secretly hoping for an obvious message bringing clarity to come to me. I was so immersed in the ingestion of everything new and very close quarters (and little time for reflection) that openings for receiving clarifications and direction were not as available as I had hoped. Still in the quieter moments, things did come through.

I feel as though I have been on the brink of needed change for some time. It is still unclear to me as to the nature of this change except that it concerns the need to find a way to be comfortable in my skin, a sense of economy of effort, at work. My stress and focus is so high around my present way of being in relation to the work I do, that it cannot be sustained. My ratio of effort to outcome is way too high. And although on the surface, it may appear to be “the perfect job for me”, I have a growing sense that it is not a good fit. The complications start, as they do, when I try to identify what ‘better fit’ looks like.

I (mostly) felt in my skin with a balanced economy of effort on vacation. There were, of course, moments of tension, but five introverts living in close proximity will tend to generate some of that with the days going as they did. All things considered, it was remarkably smooth.

How to keep beginner’s mind, while assuming the mantle of authority? How to create space for reflection and consideration in the face of immediacy? How to accurately name and acknowledge emerging issues in such a way that they can be resolved without adding additional layers of complexity? How many more questions in my head?

If I could make a living for a while with spinning & weaving, I would. Alas, that math has not been conducive given my relatively slow pace of production. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cannot process all things today… but looking for something that I can grasp as I return to the world of routine that has been less than optimal. For today I take these things:

  • Economy of effort. Do not burn too hot, little fire, burn steady.
  • Make space for reflection and consideration, even in the face of immediacy.
  • Ask the beginner questions. Beginner’s mind is to be treasured.