The pursuit of change

Change: a word that, for me, is synonymous with happiness.  While others seek stability and routine, I find myself repelled by the idea of predictability.  By making rash and sometimes imprudent decisions, I find within myself the will to go on for another day.

I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve been feeling restless lately.  I felt I needed a somewhat drastic change so yesterday I went to a salon on Grafton St and completely switched up my hair.  Cut off about three inches, got bangs (or fringe as they say here).  I felt invigorated by something tangibly different, excited to look in the mirror and see something new.  It will tide me over until the next big change.

I’m growing tired of Dublin and am looking forward to an approaching month-long holiday so I can get away.  I’m longing for solitude; I want to not just feel alone, but actually be alone.  Landscapes devoid of buildings or people, I’m dreaming of walks by the sea and rambles in the countryside.  I think often of my week in Miltown Malbay after leaving Madrid.  Time seemed to pass so slowly and I filled those hours with sweet nothingness.  I talked to the barman when I wanted conversation, took long, aimless walks when I didn’t.  I was like a ghost inhabiting the town alongside its permanent residents: I floated in and out of existence at my own pace and with an unknown agenda.  I did not exist in their rhythm of daily life, but simply shared the spaces.

I was considering hiking the Ring of Kerry or part of the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.  I like the idea of doing something meaningful and active with a defined beginning, middle, and end.  I’m bound to meet other travelers and locals alike, but will largely spend my hours walking in silence, taking in some of nature’s most beautiful scenes.  I haven’t fully decided my plan, but wherever I go, it will be near water and enveloped in solitude.

The older I get, and perhaps the better I know my mind, I find myself questioning things I thought were fundamentally part of me.  I always swore I was a city person but I’m starting to wonder if that’s actually the case.  I don’t dislike Dublin, per say, but rather I think I might never love another city as much as I love Baltimore.  It’s a strange feeling as I can call most anywhere I land home, but my connection to Charm City hasn’t been reproduced elsewhere.  I found myself strongly drawn to Limerick, but mainly because it reminded me so much of Baltimore.  It had the same feel, and in certain parts of town the same look.  I’ve considered moving to a suburb of Dublin, someplace near a beach like Killiney, but the commute to school would be too long and my nights out in the center more complicated.  For now, I resign myself to stay where I am.

Aside from the change of hair, I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo next month.  National Novel Writing Month basically entails writing 1,667 words a day for the month of November until you end with 50,000 words and a complete novel.  I have not attempted to write an entire novel ever, let alone in a month, but this seems like a fun, albeit daunting, challenge.  I have two separate ideas, one nonfiction and the other fiction, that I’m toying with but I still have a few days to decide.  I’m seriously not one to do something for the sake of doing it, so I’m trying to let go of my own mental pressure to turn out something worth attempting to publish.  My first go of it could end very poorly, but I’m trying to convince myself that it’s the practice that counts and finding that writing time every day whether I feel like it or not.  A welcome change in the form of a challenge.

I sent an update email to my old coworkers at the state health department recently and received a particularly thoughtful reply from one of them.  She praised me for my adventurous spirit and lamented that her own life was missing that change vital to the happiness of people like us. She eloquently put into words something I encounter regularly and is the reason for seeking out change where I can: “I miss that feeling of waking up in the morning and feeling like you can’t wait to see what is going to happen during your day, a bit like opening Christmas presents from under the tree.”  I haven’t gotten around to replying to her yet, but when I do I will stress that it’s never too late to get that feeling back.  Something as simple a new hairstyle, personal challenge, or hobby can inject some of that excitement back into life.  It may not come in the form of packing up and moving to a new city or country, but it’s a small change that is enough to shake things up and renew your sense of purpose.  In the end, that is the most important thing.

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