When I tell people that I’m moving to Ireland one of the more frequent responses, regardless of political bent, is some riff on, “God, take me with you. The way things are going in this country, I’m dying to get out of here”. And, while I’ve had those feelings in the past, and certainly have issues with the way things are headed over here, that’s not why I (we) are moving. And, while I’m fairly sure that some things may be better in Dublin and others will be worse, I’m absolutely certain that looking for satisfaction by running away from something is no way to find our place in the world. We’re far better off running towards something.
Kalpana (my wife) and I have always loved to travel. Through good fortune and making conscious material choices, we’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of it. I’ve even made something of a “career” of writing about those experiences. It’s safe to say that travel has substantively influenced our view of the world. We both view the challenges of travel (language barriers, food, lodging, and transportation issues) not as travails, but as tests of our inner resources. Those tests have, more often than not, led us to memorable experiences and new friends.
Because we’ve enjoyed our travels so much, we have long wanted to live overseas for an extended period of time. For us, it’s a chance to take those tests to another level. When on a 2-6 week trip, there’s always a defined end point. But when we swipe that one-way boarding pass, that’s it. Ireland will be home, and as safe as it gets for the foreseeable future. We’ll have to meet those challenges, and many we never dreamed of, without a net. That is why we’re going.
My contention, and the main reason that I got into travel writing in the first place, has always been that most of the problems in the world are caused by fear. Primarily fear of the unknown. And, if people traveled more, and got to know the rest of the world, they wouldn’t be so petrified of everything.
Some people claim that over population, economics, and other issues are to blame. But the fundamental problems with over population, the viral expansion of Wal-Mart, and the anarcho-evangelical-socialist hair clubs that pass for our political parties are all rooted in the fear that someone is going to take away our stuff, or keep our kids from getting their fair share of stuff. It’s easy to conjure a boogey man when he has no face, you slap a turban on him, dress him like a banker, and hand him a skinny latte. But once you’ve traveled a bit, met the man (or woman), watched them drag ass through the grocery store at he end of a long hard day and still smile for the family and toss the dog’s ball when they get home, it’s a lot harder to write them off as “the enemy”.
Men, have been operating out of fear, and playing political games with one another, since Thag, that first flea bitten human, ran into the cave screaming “Build a bigger fire. There’s this cold white stuff falling from the sky. Now, who is going to go out there and kill that big shaggy elephant thing so we have something to eat until spring?” As we evolved, we invented tools for just about everything. But experience is the only weapon in the fight against fear.
You do the thing you fear, and then you get the courage.
So, while I may be frustrated at times over here, we are running towards an experience that we know will test us and make us stronger. I hope our experience will convince others to travel more, and fight the fear.
Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:
- Apartment hunting and tales of Irish landlords
- First lessons in driving on the left
Emigration Day: July 12, 2011 (62 Days)