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  • Writer's pictureeschaden

Battles Fought But Never Won...

I got lost yesterday.  No, not that kind of lost.  The kind all of wish we could do, likely more often and more completely.  I had no plans.  Instead, I chose only a direction. North. Out of Dublin.  While I am sure it is a lovely city and very fine in many ways, I do not like it.  I didn’t like in 1989, and I didn’t like it this time either.  It feels depressing and dirty.  Like life is struggling to breathe there.  Like people are hovering between life and death and losing.  

I cannot say exactly why I feel this way about Dublin.  I just do.  I am not a city person, well, anymore.  I want to be away from all of the hustle and bustle and people.  The older I get, the less people I want in my life.  Well, at least masses of people overwhelming me, touching me, jostling me.  I do not like running into people or having them run into me.  It feels violative of my personal boundaries and space.  I mean, it is violative of that, and that feels like something I cannot ever control in that environment.  And it unsettles me.  

But that is with every city.  Not just Dublin.  Dublin just hurts my soul in a way I cannot explain and do not completely understand.  I just know that from the moment I arrive, this feeling of “get me the fuck out of here, fast” comes over me.  And so I do, get the fuck out of there fast.  I could literally feel myself and my happiness expand exponentially as I left Dublin.

So I went North.  And I just followed road signs.  I was on the, “that looks cool” trajectory so I found myself in lots of away places yesterday.  My biggest companions?  Sheep and cows.  They were the landscape of my life yesterday.  Not humans.  No, I barely saw any and spoke to even fewer.  A few friendly but brief exchanges with servicing people who helped me get gas and a polite thank you to those when I bought food.  Other than that, I was idle in the whole conversing department.

I had no intention to go to the Battle of the Boyne. But found myself there anyway.  It was there that the first Irish rebellion failed in 1690.  It was this battle that paved the way for Irish Protestantism to flourish and dominate the Irish Catholics, well until, actually, forever.  I guess to be more factually accurate, Cromwell really fucked the Catholics over good in 1649-1653.  But it was the Battle of the Boyne where the Catholics attempted to regain ground and lost.  A cycle which would be repeated endlessly.  One in which I have always identified with...although I can’t really even tell you why.   I just know that I am and have always been on the side of the Catholics.  My support and kindredness with the subjugated and oppressed uniquely curated along the Irish lines. It was no accident in 1989 that I found myself in an IRA stronghold. I am also never going to be sure that I am more relieved or saddened by the fact that I life might have looked quite different indeed.

It made me sad, to walk the grounds, knowing how many lives were lost here. Not just the ones who died, but the ones who were lost for centuries after.  Where the protestants and catholics were pitted forever against each other.  When in truth, both religious sects manipulated and controlled for the profit of the almighty pound...and land.  Always and forever land.  Money, power, land.  I guess the only other human motivator is sex.  And that was used as well.  To keep women in their place and to cause abject fear always.  Forever ensuring that women had only the following choice:  align with this group of men who will dominate, abuse and control you.  Or that group of men who will do the same but call it love.  Not great choices either way.  However, it was the only real choice we had until modern day.  And sometimes, I would argue that it isn’t really a choice even now...

I digress...

So I got lost down one lane roads that led to fields of green, dotted with sheep.  I saw the Mourne mountains rise in the distance and saw the topography change from flat to raised.  Nothing compared to our mountains at home, but in Ireland, the rising of the ground towards the heavens takes on new meaning for me.  An ascent of the land towards the Divine which anyone who has ever stepped foot on this land, knows that this land belongs only to God...we are forever his tenants.  Unlike his human counterparts, God grants liberal land tenancy with very little cost requested.  Appreciate the beauty.  Take care of the land and its people and its bounty.  Really, I think Ireland is proof that God loves us always.  Just take a fucking look is written on every hillside, every blade of grass.  The green is blinding, its health and beauty and nascent budding.  How can one not feel alive and vital when standing on Irish soil?

As I entered the Mourne Mountains, I stopped and took in the view.  It was a little cutaway in the road, just enough space for someone else to pass you on the one lane road that held open the theory of two way travel.  I will tell you, that going 60 km/hour down a one lane road that is fully used as a two way road is a new fear of mine.  A little lessened today because I now know how it is done.  But there were moments yesterday when I just closed my eyes and prayed...come to think of it, my life requires I do this a great deal. Moment after faithful moment of pressing forward, eyes sealed shut, allowing Divinity to be my only true guide.

As I stood there taking in the vista, tears welled up in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks.   It wasn’t really a cry, but instead I think a leaking of pain over which I lack ownership.  The beauty was remarkable, but there was this oppressive sadness too.  So much heart and soul lost in this land.  In the name of the Crown, in the name of the Father, in the name of greed, in the name of drink.  So many ways we humans have wasted ourselves and others along the way.  So many ways we fail to see that the humanity and attendant struggle is the same.

So I stood there wet cheeked and just allowed the tears to fall into the soil.  I had no idea why I was crying, I just knew that it was time to let the water fall.  I am not sure when or how I became the tyrant of tears, but I did.  And so yesterday, I allowed myself my own rebellion of sorts, when I did nothing to stop the rivers flowing from my eyes and landing on soil that is holy to me.  I cannot describe the feeling as I am sure I have never felt it before.  I am not Irish by birth, but I will tell you absolutely that my soul is.  And yesterday on a little cutaway in the road, some part of me joined up with some other part of me in a way that I cannot describe, or really even fathom...yet.

All I do know is that I had me a moment with myself yesterday and all the Divinity that surrounds me.  I found a park shortly thereafter and walked it.  Unhurried and lost in thought.  Trying inexplicably to find a good reason for the rush of tears. I could not.

So I hike the foothills of the Mournes.  Changed, and altered from my roadside breakdown.  I felt renewed and destroyed at the same time.  I talked to an old man and his dog.  We exchanged pleasantries as he inquired my origin.  He knew too well that someone like me was not from Dublin.  And I knew too well that he was lonely and longing.  I gave him my time, and a piece of my heart and prayed he walked toward home a little lighter than when he left.  A gift that is solely human, the ability in the briefest exchange to alter the course of a day or life for another human.  We all have this power, and with it we choose either destruction or construction.  The choice is always ours.  And far too often, we all chose the former over the later.  To be that destructive, taking force.  Removing options and humanity from someone else, and ourselves in the briefest human exchanges.

I spent the day in my head which was not a battleground for once.  My mind was a hospitable host, for once.  I did not contemplate moving to Ireland, which if you know me at all, I do every time I travel somewhere new.  Instead, I realized that Ireland lives within me always.  I wander the countryside of a land I have barely experienced, and yet I feel at home.  There is no need to move, only to return once more.

Back to myself, reprieved from the battleground that has so often been my life, my head and my heart.  Free to think the things I like to think about, and all the feelings the thoughts conjure up in me.  And for once there was no resistance, I just allowed the welling up of all the stuff to happen without too much care or concern or resistance.  And for me, I think I have a new definition of peace.  It isn’t the absence of struggle, or plaguing thoughts or crushing emotions, but instead the ability to walk through a day with all those things raging within and creating a space for them that was loving, kind and hospitable.

What landed for me was that the day I stop fighting battles that can never be won, will be my last day here.  I see that now.  I am an insurrectionist to my core.  And fighting is just what I do.  With you.  With myself.  With God.  And so I finally asked myself yesterday, “what in God’s name are you fighting for?”

And it was like the intervening life years came at me in a rush, a firestorm of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and intents.  And I just stood there unsheltered...alone, defenseless.  And it came to me that my life has been about reclamation which shall always and forever be a battleground.  Because one cannot reclaim that which was wrongfully taken without a lifelong commitment to battles fought but never won...

And so it is with me...



Always. It will always and forever be about this.

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