Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Walk to Phoenix Park

It was my last Saturday in Dublin before I would return to Boston two days later. For all I knew it would be quite awhile before I'd see Dublin again. It was a sad thought, but we didn't let it spoil our day.

Following a hearty breakfast in Ranelagh, we set out for Phoenix Park. Even before I set foot in Ireland, I had wanted to visit Phoenix Park. This would be the day!

It's a long walk, but we had our tourist map, and there was much to enjoy along the way. We bought birthday earrings from a jeweler on Wexford Street, an Anglophile who raved about her time in the States. She was friendly, conversational. She took time with us; we enjoyed a visit, really. And she even forgave the remaining euro or so of the price that I could not produce because...well, we were going to Phoenix Park, not shopping!

A few doors down, I found John Dunn of Dunn's Camera Shop and purchased my first tripod, which I've had a hankering for for quite some time. John joked with us in a gentlemanly way. We enjoyed his good humor and we returned it. While paying, I noticed an art card or two for sale at the register.

"Those are my daughter's," he told me.

I found her wonderfully gifted and told him so, then invited him to invite her to write me on Love's Freeway, to submit some photographs perhaps.

"Would you like my card?" he twinkled.

And when I said yes, he drew another bag from the stack imprinted with his store name address and phone and handed it to me.

"What's your daughter's name?" I asked.

"Fiona," he replied.

So on the Gunn's Camera Shop bag I wrote "John," and underneath that, "Fiona." I felt as if I'd just made two new friends.

We found a street market, craftspersons selling their crafts. We found Walton's, "a name synonymous with Irish Music," and before we knew it, had bought a Bodhran, the traditional tambourine-shaped Irish drum. We had tea at the Queen of Tarts, while horse and buggy passed. We happened upon a children's choir warming up for an evening concert at Christ Church Cathedral, and paused to enjoy their heavenly voices.

But telling of all these stops along our way does not tell the real story, the real point of this telling.

As you may have guessed, we never made it to Phoenix Park. By 6 p.m., our energies were fading and so was the sun. We would save Phoenix Park for another day. We trusted there would be another day. And that, really, is the point of this telling. All day, in so many ways, I felt Dublin saying "Stay, stay. We'd like you to stay," to guide and fortify me in the days to follow. Alongside this message was another, equally important: be flexible. Be willing to be led. Stay open. Because for all you know, the detours aren't detours at all, but rather the destination you would have chosen had you known to choose it.

Not once did we resist the unfolding of that day, and so a dynamic was created I suppose. To embrace the flow I do believe brings more flow. It was as if Life were saying, "You like that? Well, how about this! You'll love this!" It was as if someone had sprinkled a trail of fairy dust, and we unwittingly kept following it. The day was one I will not forget anytime soon. And all because we said yes. All because we picked up our feet and let the current take us.

At times, I have been accused of being stubborn, known to grab onto a plan or a mission or an idea and not let go. Sometimes such determination serves me well. But on this day, it would have cost me a lot. It would have cost me a magical co-creation with Life and countless delightful surprises.

I am reminded of the infinite wisdom of Lao-Tsu and the Tao te Ching:

If you want to grab the world and run it
I can see that you will not succeed.
The world is a spiritual vessel, which can't be controlled.

Manipulators mess things up.
Grabbers lose it. Therefore:
Sometimes you lead

Sometimes you follow

I am so glad we recognized this as a time to follow. And I am grateful to Dublin for her warm welcome, her clear message that there is more and more and more to discover here.


Blogger Michael Culhane said...

Lovely insight, matched by the beautiful writing. If only every day were like this one. Regards, Mike.

6:03 PM  

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