We've been away for 3 days. You can rethink just about everything in that time. Getting out of routine nourishes the brain.
It starts with the long car journey. The distractions - chores, things the kids need from the shop, the ironing and the cleaning and the dogs that need walking - all evaporate. It's just the two of you with 300miles to your destination at the bottom of Ireland. All those hours to talk, plan, discuss, muse, dream and to play the "what if game" as you slide deeper and deeper in to the unknown rugged territory of Co Kerry.
Sometimes, when you look at a mirror image of a view you know well, it seems more interesting and evocative. We crave change and new vistas. They invigorate and make us wonder at our surroundings. Travel expands our minds as we explore new worlds and meet other ways of thinking.
But you don't need to pay a fortune or queue at airports to get out of your own little world. We lIve lives of routines, which shape our way of seeing. Routines give us comfort because of their security. But busting out of routine can be a great liberator because it opens up the opportunity of living our day differently.
In today's hectic world, so many of us rush so much. We don't sit down to break our overnight fast except on special occasions. Instead, we grab a coffee to go as we hurry to work. We slog over emails and computers. At the end of the day, we we get back in to our closed up cars with all the other traffic or on to crowded public transport in the rush hour. We cram our shopping into online moments in the middle of the night. We send WhatsApps messages rather than hand write a birthday card.
Yesterday, we watched the old guy coming in to O'Malleys where he handed over his shopping list to the lad on the other side of a counter. He was promptly given a pint and he sat down to natter to those in the shop. Twenty minutes later, he left with the box of groceries that were selected for him. We couldn't help but think it was a much better way to click and collect.
Slowing down the pace of life helps us to see the value of conversation and the real interaction of speaking to another person. The digital connection reverts to the physical connection, with eye contact, laughter and the rmusic of a local accent. People meet and talk with the people they live right beside. The reliance upon a neighbour is full of meaning. The Blasket Centre threw some light on to the way this lifestyle existed for some 175 people until as recently as 1953, when the Blasket islanders were evacuated to the mainland. Their remote life on the islands off the far west of the Dingle Peninsula was acutely hard and sparse with very few material possessions. But their simple ways were weaved in a rich culture of folkmanship, a respect for nature's strength, their own Gaelic tongue and the storytelling that meant their history was not forgotten., We came away humbled.
On the journey down, we read a post about how the retail high street in the UK was continuing to decline. Galleries with work from artists and crafters and artisan food outlets are on the rise. Charity shops and cafes are the predominant winners of the slow down in retail growth. Maybe that's a good thing - recycling, upcycling, creativity and conversation thrive in a slower environment. So next time you find yourself in one of those places, invest some of your time to talk to the shopkeeper and find out where their product comes from or how it's made so you can understand the skills that are inherently missing in our commercially produced big stores. We hope that our local main streets enjoy a resurgence of life and audible buzz.
Maybe social media can still mean reading the paper in the pub over a slow pint.