This blog was hard for me to write. I love to try and portray my travels as accurately as possible and up until now it was easy for me to do because I had traveled to some of the most beautiful places and each had struck some sort of cord within me. I wrongly assumed that all places that I traveled to would prove equally as impactful. It was a lesson that I learned the hard way this weekend, but one that I am happy having learned.
I decided to travel to Cork this weekend because it happens to be the second largest county in Ireland runner-up to Dublin. The trip was nothing like what I was expecting, which is hard for me to say because I did not think I had expectations. I was convinced that with each new journey I was embarking on it was free of expectations for the simple reason that I never knew what to expect. I purposefully avoided looking at pictures of a place before I went because I wanted to see it through my own eyes when I got there and yes I wanted to be surprised because it adds to the experience. What I did not realize is that with each trip I was gaining a certain amount of expectations. I began to expect beautiful statues and architecture to be bountiful. I began to expect little cafes and shops. I began to expect to feel wonder or a connection at each new find. It was as if each new journey built upon the last slowly creating this pedestal of expectations that many places would find it hard to live up to. This was all on a subconscious level, but it soon came to the forefront of my mind upon my arrival to Cork. It is important to state now that cork has its own charm and due to time constraints I was unable to fully explore it. I am sure there was a lot I missed and some of which may not be obvious to the everyday tourist. Now having said that my expectations came crashing down and I realized something: not every place I visit throughout my life is going to make a large impression. It seems like an obvious observation considering if all the places were to make a big impression then logically none of them would. That sounds slightly convoluted, but there is the old saying “to much of a good thing”.
I was bewildered when I arrived and soon realized that not only did I have expectations, but that this place lived up to none of them. The disappointment I felt was very acute, to the point that I just wanted to hop back on the bus back to Dublin. The expectation that hurt the most when I came to the realization that it would not come to fruition was the expectation that with each new place I would build some form of a connection in my exploration. As my previous blogs described I began to humanize each place transforming them into a character based on my impression of them, but it was the connection I felt with each place that allowed me to create my characters. It was so easy to write about each city because the experience was, for lack of a better term, impactful. I felt like each place merely fell directly onto the paper from my head with little direction from me. It felt more like the experience controlled the writing rather than me. It was why I was so worried about writing this blog I knew it was not going to be easy to write about Cork because I had little to say about it. The experience was not impactful nor was the experience guiding my hand. I finally stopped trying to write about Cork itself and began to focus on what the experience taught me and that is when I came to the biggest realization of all: Cork did have an impact on me. It might not have been the city itself, but I did learn something of value from the place. I now hope to move forward throwing out my expectations and to the best of my ability, or anyone’s for that matter, have an open mind. To take the place in as you would any individual completely unique to themselves leaving no room for comparisons. To keep in mind that each place I go and each person I meet along the way will have an impact on me (what I call the ripple effect), but the size of the impact will vary.