The other day, while hiking in the Belfast Hills to McArt’s Fort, I saw a jaw-dropping viewpoint that looks out over Belfast and Lough Neagh. During the hike, I had a conversation with my friend Joanna about feeling wonder. It seems that there is this tradeoff where the more you travel the less things continue to impress you or put you in a state of awe. Maybe this just comes with growing up but it can be quite disconcerting when you constantly thirst for excitement and aim to feel displaced from normal life. In recent years, I have found some amazing places to be disappointing or replicable in another location, which I recognize makes me seem unappreciative and overtly privileged. But this climb definitely brought back my state of wonder. The hour long hike up the steep hill that felt like a scene in Lord of the Rings set us in the mood for something awesome…despite multiple wipe-outs in the thick mud that paved our trek.
Looking out over the city of Belfast and the surrounding land on a very rare, sunny Irish day is an image that will be imprinted on my mind for a long time to come. There is so much history integrated within the modern landscape of Northern Ireland that it was refreshing to be above it all-- to survey the activity below. The sky was a magnificent blue, the February land was an unexpected but refreshing green, and despite the few people standing in my midst, it was so easy to feel alone.
Yes, the view from McArt’s fort will probably make me less impressed with the next hill or mountain that I climb during my travels. But I must say, it was worth that hour of wonder.
I hope that this month's issue, our first in 2015, will bring you that same sense of wonder.
Slán go fóill!
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