Travel Journal: Northern Ireland
At the time I was incapable of feeling the tension that defined my experiences travelling around Northern Ireland and the Republic in the second week at Queen’s. That is, the tension between the bubble of contentment that still surrounded me after my experiences during the orientation week at Queen’s and the insatiable curiosity I always feel when traveling. Curiosity is, properly understood, a fear of missing something—it is a fear of failing to perceive that which is beautiful, uplifting, or enlightening—and contentment and fear are mutually exclusive.
So I was a walking paradox upon the cliffs beside the Giant’s Causeway, looking out upon the beautiful
mix of colors that (not to overuse the painting analogy) seemed to come from Van Gogh’s palette. I couldn’t get enough of the causeway, as evidenced by the hundreds upon hundreds of pictures I took of it, and yet an overpowering serenity possessed me.
I had gone through the first week at Queen’s in a bit of a haze. Throughout the orientation process, I felt almost detached—as though I were observing someone else who wore my face and name, stumbling in and out of social situations, parties, and pubs with ease. Normally I am a relatively unsocial individual, but here I was having the time of my life, so I suppose the hazy detachment was my way of avoiding an identity crisis. Somehow, I had lost the ability to be worried after the nightmare of a first day. Since I had already explored the entire spectrum of possible experiences-gone-wrong in Belfast—short of being mugged, killed or deported—and had gotten through all of them in the end, there was no real need to be worried about anything. It hadn’t proved an adaptive trait on the first day, and I quickly discovered this
would be consistent throughout my experiences in
Belfast; the anxiousness that had characterized a good portion of my previous twenty years of existence had already, on the second day in Belfast, proven merely troublesome and useless. So I abandoned my well-exercised worrying faculty and leaped into the unfamiliar with giddy abandon.
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