The amount of mismatching socks I have now outnumbers the socks that still have their mates. I came here with about 10 pairs of perfectly matched socks; I’m now down to about four. It’s a good day if I get to crack into a fresh pair of matched socks, but these days seems to be fewer and farther in-between now. Everyone has this sock problem, I’m sure, and I now understand why my dad used pin his socks together after he wore them -I always though that it was the strangest thing. Who would actually take the time to pin socks together after wearing them? Well it turns out pins that are cheaper than buying new socks, so I’ve started pinning the few pairs of matching socks I have left. Is this what adulthood feels like? I guess it’s all balance sheets, planned meals, and pinned socks from here on out. Maybe I’ll get a tattoo as an ode to my youth. Also, while we’re on the subject of missing laundry, I think there’s a laundry bandit on the loose in my housing residence. Ever-so-gradually, I feel like my clothes (not just the odd sock) are starting to disappear, and I know I’m not the only one with this problem. So I think I’m going to stake out the residence laundromat the next few times I do a load of laundry; I’ll provide updates on the Glenomena Laundry Bandit as they filter through.
It’s been about two weeks since my last because these past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Since my last post, I’ve been to Barcelona and Donegal, and I’ve spent my time in Dublin writing papers and finishing group projects, all of which are due next week (the last week of classes). Recently, I’ve caught myself getting quite used to this singular way of life; I work hard from Monday until about Thursday afternoon, and then I get on a bus or a plane and head off on some exhilarating adventure in some part of the world that I’ve never been to. I am constantly in awe of my surroundings, and I think something inside has woken up. The world is a miraculous place that is overflowing with remarkable people. I’ve gotten a taste of the world outside the one that I knew prior to this experience, and I’ve discovered a thirst for new experiences and different cultures. I am constantly humbled by the kindheartedness and warmth of the strangers that I’ve met in my travels. And I don’t think ‘strangers’ is an appropriate term to use; the application of the word automatically incites a sense of apprehension towards a new acquaintance and acts as a barrier to a potential relationship. I don’t mean that every single person is warm and friendly or that one shouldn’t handle himself or herself with care; I only mean that there’s been nothing ‘strange’ about so many of the wonderful people I’ve met in the past few months and to call them strangers is misleading.
As I’m sure most of you are familiar with Barcelona, at least in name, I’ll focus on my trip to the lesser-known Donegal. Donegal is a county in Ireland that sits on its Northwestern tip, and, more specifically, we took a trip to Mount Errigal, which is Donegal’s tallest mountain (750+ meters) located near the town of Gweedore. The trip was dubbed a ‘survival trip’ and was put on by ESN (the same student network that organized the trip to Belfast –see ‘Peace Piece’). We stayed in a fantastic hostel in the foothills of this magnificent mountain and, as the name of the weekend suggests, we spent our time hiking, cycling, rock-climbing, and kayaking. I can’t properly describe just how fulfilling this trip was, so I’m not going to try. I’ll provide pictures instead as well as pictures from my trip to Barcelona.
I would like to mention, however, a man I encountered in Donegal that left a lasting impression. Aodhan led my group and I along a walking tour around the coastal area near Mount Errigal. Aodhan seemed like the happiest fellow in the world and had this air about him that I can only describe as if he knew something that the rest of us didn’t – in an enlightened way not in a weird or creepy way. I was drawn to his positive energy, so I sparked up a conversation with him, trying to pry the secret of life out of him that he so clearly knew. As it turns out, Aodhan is an extremely educated individual with multiple degrees, one in international relations and another in education. He worked for the United Nations on a humanitarian relief effort in Lesotho, Africa for a number of years before returning to Donegal where he was born and raised. He said that he grew weary of the corruption and perilous conditions in which he worked, so he went back to school to get a Master’s Degree in education and returned home. As we walked through the rolling hills of this world seemingly untouched by the harshness of modern civilization, Aodhan mentioned that he missed the looking out on the horizon while he was away from home. He remarked that as long he could watch the sun rise everyday in the East and set over the sea to West in the evening, he would be perfectly content. And perfectly contented is what he seemed.
Aodhon’s words stirred a revelation within myself that I’ve long tried to grasp. For me, I can now say that I understand that life isn’t about working to support a desired lifestyle; it’s about defining one’s purpose and working to support that purpose, whatever it may. Money is necessary and it certainly makes things easier, but what is the point in making money if one’s only purpose to make money only for the sake of being able to make more money (I do not take credit for this idea -I discovered it from reading Alan Watts). Purpose for me exists in relationships and helping people to better themselves. More importantly, life’s about being happy in pair of mismatched socks because, really, no one cares about your socks but yourself.
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” (Quote by Douglas Adams)