Last month I had the privilege of studying music (and sight-seeing) in the deep green country of Ireland. It was a bit of a whirlwind study abroad but it was oh-so-lovely. The Irish speak in swinging speech, each dialect particular to the county or region. The breakfast is delicious and the tea quite close enough to perfect that it kept me completely off coffee the entire two weeks. Each pub we visited was unique. Some were dimly lit with candles and wound about with small tables and benches arranged for conversation and enjoyment of the music. Some were darling with twinkle lights and posters and flags adorning the walls. Each pub's atmosphere possessed its own bit of charm unique to its setting. And the music, oh the music. Utterly delightful and just fun.
It's something else, I think, to be able to travel. To be able to feel stone under feet on which thousands have trod centuries ago. To be able to taste the differences in the food and in the air. To be able to laugh with people who speak differently and live differently from you. It makes you feel small, but small in the best sort of way. Small and yet somehow still woven into this beautiful life tapestry with these people, while different and foreign to you, in ways intricate and fascinating.
"We came here to study music," I say to a man at the pub. He lights up, as if it's a miracle there's actually fifteen of us here for the specific purpose of learning traditional Irish music. "Ah, lovely! What instrument do you play?" "Fiddle," I respond. It's been a week in Ireland and I'm just now coming to terms with calling my instrument a fiddle. I like it. When I was little I never wanted to say I played the "fiddle" because for some reason it made me feel like a white-haired old man in overalls meeting his cronies to "fiddle the night away". Not that that makes any sense, but I strongly felt it as an eight-year old. But now I say fiddle because it's fun. The music I've learned is just that--absolutely one-hundred percent fun. Fun to play and fun to hear. It's so deeply woven into the culture that the two are essentially the same.
That's what is so wonderful about traveling and seeping yourself in new places. Places absolutely rich with such history and culture that after spending a fortnight there you find yourself having only stuck the tip of your big toe into the vast ocean that is their history. Their people. Their lives.
It's also wonderful when you don't have to do it alone--when you travel with people you love and share life with or when you travel with people you barely know and you end up becoming buddies who share youtube videos and midnight trips to McDonald's because we said we wouldn't. In this case, it was the second scenario and I wouldn't have traded it.
Cheers to traveling, new friends, making music and of course, Irish beer.