There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. –Nelson Mandela
I’ve always been the kind of person that would shy away from revisiting a place.
My thinking centered around “Why would I return somewhere I’ve already been when there’s so many more places I’ve yet to experience?” So many more new stamps to ink all over my passport. New photos to take of never before seen monuments and landforms. New conversations with new people from new cultures.
But, earlier this year in March I revisited Dublin for St. Patrick’s Fest; a second encounter in a magical place that turned out to be everything I needed to reignite my passion for travel after being robbed at gunpoint in Colombia four months prior.
I guess you could say it was one of the perfect ingredients to inject in my season of healing and rebuilding. Despite its chilly temperatures in March, for me, Dublin is one of those places that wraps me up in comfort and familiarity. From the contagiously cheerful spirit of every Irish person you meet, to the soul stirring conversations over bowls of beef and Guinness pie in cozy neighborhood pubs, Dublin just feels like home. Home away from home.
But this time around was a bit more special than the first. I got to experience it with my dear friend Anne; a charming soul, and my travel companion who was on the bus with me in Colombia when it was hijacked, and all of our belongings were snatched from us. Reuniting in Dublin was something both of us needed to remind us of the fresh memories that have yet to be made. The new memories that were waiting for us to revel in their delight. Places and things that have never been seen with our eyes, or felt in the depths of our souls. And ultimately, being in Ireland left both our stomachs and our hearts full again. Very, very full.
Our excursion began with us exploring familiar favorites like Trinity College, Temple Bar, and the cheery bright colored doors lining the streets of Merrion Square and its surrounds. We frequented as many cafes that sold matcha lattes as we could find, and we happily stumbled upon some of Dublin’s best street art. Drifting away from the bustle of the city, we set out north on a day trip to the rolling countryside. We discovered enchanted castles, scenic rugged coastlines, windy roads, and quaint seaside towns marked by the most beautiful shades of green you’d ever find, and the freshest air that beckons you to take another deep inhalation immediately after the last. Here, I quickly rediscovered my love for the simple things: belly filled laughter and deep conversations with new and familiar people. Both are tremendously therapeutic. But a new appreciation for being outside amongst the vastness of nature also began to creep in.
Last year’s theme for St. Patrick’s Fest celebrated Ireland’s present; its cultural innovations and achievements. This year focused on looking to the future and proudly boasted the country as a “breath of fresh air”. How fitting it was for me to transplant myself back into a familiar place and to mark my brand new passport with a stamp I’ve seen once before.
Returning to Dublin symbolized that breath of fresh air that showed me, things can be good again. That all experiences, whether we perceive them to be good or bad can be learning experiences that we use to help shape our future. Stepping back in Ireland reminded me of my love for travel, for culture, and for people. And so just like the Irish celebrated their optimism for a bright future during this annual celebration, I too celebrated optimism for new beginnings in my own personal journey.