You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘travel’ tag.
Journeying through illness is like being in a foreign country. I travel to different places when I cross this treshold. Time shape-shifts and I take up temporary residence as an émigré. Perhaps when I am ill, my perception is altered and some of the veils which are normally present are tattered. And curiously, a veil may come between I and the person I know to be myself. There is a strange sense of dis-location, of being at once ‘here’ and ‘not here’.
“Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.”
- John O’Donohue
Beginning on the first day of this year, for about a week, I found myself confined to bed in perpetual twilight; time marked by the waxing and waning of a strange moon as the day rose and fell outside the window.
The sky above seemed very far way.
In a gale-blown tree, jackdaws clung and bobbed like strange and heavy fruit. Then caught the wind in widespread wings, veering away to leave sky and branches empty once again.
Groping blindly, I sank between the white mounds of cool feathers, that powerful massif of bedding rising up around me.
Walked ridges of cashmere to meet the dawn
and traversed duvet valleys.
A wing of night came from the West bringing dreams of Raven, keeper of Wisdom and bringer of knowledge from the dark places within.
And when I slept: fever dreams, curious turns of logic and, again, dangerous visions.
Besides the usual symptoms of flu – fever, cough, headache, aching muscles and tiredness, my malady included anhedonia*. For the past month I’ve felt a veil between me and other people and the world around me.
My main preoccupations for much of the past few weeks have been reading and listening to BBC Radio 3. Mid-month, when I felt well enough to get the bus into work or to go to my volunteer post, I was polite as possible to people for as brief a time as I could get away with, before burying my nose back into a book.
Steve was mostly working from home and in good health. When I was bedridden, he was Room Service on our cordless phone intercom, keeping me nourished with the likes of fresh fruit and beef tea. Invalid food.
Snow came and went. I stayed up late one night to make a study of precisely how it covered the slate roofs of the houses over-by.
As it thawed, the windows kicked the covers off.
The snow turned to rain with dramatic skies and storms lashing in from the West.
Streaking the windows with long, wet fingers . . . .
One good thing about having traveled in a foreign country is seeing the familiar in a different way. Hopefully by bringing a new perspective back Home and having been away, finding a deeper appreciation of Home.
The month is ending with clear skies and the Full Wolf Moon.
I have nearly returned from my travels and our bedroom light is once again a rice paper globe.
* Anhedonia, n., the absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it, 1897, from French anhédonie, coined 1896 by French psychologist Theodule Ribot (1839-1916).
So, we’re back home. Well, Steve had to go right back out to work, but it feels good to be back at home base after our travels around Southern Ireland. I’ve been unpacking, doing laundry, working on some publicity material for a couple of important art showings this late summer, went into Exeter on some errands and to meet a friend for lunch, had a nap, went to the gym, cooked dinner, Skyped with Steve. In other words, I’m back to my day-to-day life, nuancing it to what’s happening now and in the near future.
I’ve also been thinking about our trip. Sometimes when I travel, I feel anxious at times. I know how I prefer my surroundings to feel and look – calm and quiet and beautiful and interesting. When I’m travelling, the place I get to may not be how I envisioned it or I might look at the road not taken with a pang of yearning or feel overwhelmed with a place I love and feel a touch of melancholy when I realise that I can’t absorb it for as long as I’d like to.
What I love the most about travelling is finding the places and things which resonate deeply and find a Home within, experiences and people who take root in my Soul. When it happens, it’s amazing, although I confess that I don’t enjoy every single bit of the travelling part. That’s me though, an INFP (Idealist) and a Type 4 (Romantic).
A huge part of how I process my travels, is to reflect on them when I’m back in the comfort of Home. Tonight I’m thinking about being on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. A place where the sea and sky disappear into one another and the setting sun silvers the water.
The land cradles and is cradled by the ocean.
I stood for a while on this clifftop and walked along the edge, following the Dingle Way for a few hundred yards. Swallows skimmed the tops of the grass. I wanted to keep going!
I’m also thinking of some of the Stone Age and later Anglo-Celtic art work I saw including Newgrange Passage Tomb, The Book of Kells, Bronze Age gold jewelry, Celtic Christian stone work.
Trying to keep this fairly short, but here are a couple of favourites. They are both about three miles from where we stayed, on the westernmost point of Ireland.
This dry rubble masonry oratory was built by a monastic community in the 7th century AD.
Gallarus Oratory (Irish: Séipéilín Ghallarais, literally “The House or Shelter for Foreigners”, the said foreigners being “those pilgrims who had come from outside the Peninsula.”
Next to it is this beautiful and simple cross-inscribed stone. I love the cross-quartered circle. This is an important symbol in both Native American and Celtic religions.
The sacred circle filled with a cross, four equal lines pointing from the center to the spirits of the north, east, south, and west– or to the basic element: earth, water, air (or wind), and fire. In Native American traditions, it forms the basic pattern of the medicine wheel and plays a vital part in major spiritual rituals. Many contemporary pagans consider it their main symbol for transmitting the energy of the goddess. It’s been incorporated into the cross in Celtic Christianity.
I like the people who made these objects of simple beauty. My curiosity is piqued and I look forward to finding out more about them. It felt good to be there and to bring back some of the awe, peace and happiness that I felt from having encountered and experienced what they left behind. My creativity is inspired to travel deep within and to discover where this new path will lead, following all of the artwork I saw on our travels.