Attitude of Gratitude by Kerri Strauss
The most valuable resource is time. No amount of money can buy you more. Nothing you can possess can slow it down or speed it up. It can’t be leveraged, bartered, or stolen. As I grow older and reflect, it’s so clear that my most cherished possessions are not things at all, they are memories. Time well spent. Time shared with friends, associates, most importantly, family, and even strangers along the way.
A long time ago I learned an old axiom: “The past is no longer. The future has yet to come”- unknown Which leaves you with the only thing you truly have, which is the present.
Today I am as young as I will ever be, and now is the time for living. I have far more desire for life than longevity. I don’t want to waste one precious moment. So how exactly does one go about this? By being present and mindful. Adopting an “Attitude of Gratitude” where you focus on what you have rather than what you do not. These ideas are not mine; they are thousands of years old, and widespread.
My husband and I spend time walking and talking each day. We love to soak up the sun, breath the fresh mountain air, and see the wildlife. We discuss our day to day and our plans for the future. We have wanderlust in our bones and it’s one of the things that brought us so close together over the past 24 years. We love to venture into the unknown. We meet new people, explore new places, taste cultural foods, and learn the history. Having the freedom to explore on your own terms is liberating. It is often comical when it goes awry and amazing when you spontaneously discover something unexpected or meet amazing people.
June of 2022 we landed in Dublin Ireland in a light rain. The next eighteen days of our trip were unbelievably sunny and dry with minor exception. We picked up our rental car and off we went. We spent two days in Dublin where we toured the Guinness Factory, Kilmainham Goal Prison, Trinity College, saw the Book of Kells, listened to musicians busking on Grafton Street, and enjoyed morning runs along the River Liffey. We climbed the cliffs of Howth, enjoyed the pubs, and amazing seafood! We went to Forty Foot in Sandycove, a famous bathing spot where the Irish swim year-round.
Galway was our next destination. A quaint walkable town with tons of shops, street vendors, farmers market, cafes, pubs, traditional Irish breakfasts and homemade sweets to die for! We toured the University of Galway. We spent an amazing day catching loads of mackerel, cod, and sharks in Galway Bay where we made friends with a group of Irish teens and their father! We had a dinner banquet at the Dunguaire Castle – built in 1520 – where we drank mead and enjoyed theatrical performances including a harpist. We went to Salthill to enjoy a nightly swim and cannonballs with the locals who show off their backflips and high dives from the Blackrock Diving Tower into the ocean below.
The Aran Island Ferry took us to the island of Inishmore. Here we rented bicycles to explore. We cycled along the coast down narrow roads lined with stone cattle paddocks. Sheep and wild pheasant roamed the hillsides. Sea lions were sunning on the shoreline and life stood still even if just for a moment.
The majesty of the island was so powerful I struggle for words to convey what I felt. Standing in Viking Forts such as Dun Aonghasa with sheer cliffs dropping to the abyss of the Ocean took our breath away and left us speechless.
We met a young man who gave us directions, “go to the big barn in the valley and turn right, go till there is no road and turn right, follow the fence until it stops, here you will leave your bikes and begin the climb along the rocks along the shore until you can’t, and then you will be there.” We scaled down the rock walls to the rectangular geologic anomaly known as “The Serpent’s Lair.” It is a cliff jumping location shaped like a pool carved perfectly out of solid stone by the ocean over millennia. First, we volun-told my husband to test the waters and see if he could scale his way out of the oceanic pool. (Contrary to when they held the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2017, there is no ladder.) Then our boys took the 30-foot plunge into the cold waters. Once it was my turn, I did a toe touch on the way down to show the boys up which was great until I hit the water and surfaced. Apparently, we had awoken a sea monster and all my splashing drew his attention. Somewhere from the depths of the ocean came a jellyfish of gargantuan proportions to investigate who was in his waters. Now I’m not saying I walked on water that day, but I sure came about as close as anyone ever has! I set a time record for the rock climb out and that was that!
After three days of remote island adventure, we returned to mainland Ireland. We drove south towards Doolin, stopping along the way to spend my son Cody’s birthday coasteering which is a combination of rock climbing and cliff jumping into the ocean. We swam into an oceanic cave where we sang Happy Birthday as we tread water to stay afloat. Earlier that morning a group of friendly Belgium photographers on holiday staying at our B&B had sang their traditional Belgium version of Happy Birthday while he sat in a chair blushing!
We strolled along the Cliffs of Moher, took Conor’s Pass to Dingle, and drove Slea Head Drive. We jogged the streets of Dingle, enjoyed the food, libations, and local music. As we continued on, we took a car ferry across the River Shannon, explored Killarney National Park, a sheep farm displaying the amazing skills of sheep dogs, and made our way to Blarney Castle. No trip is complete without kissing the Blarney Stone!
We toured the Rock of Cashel, Hore Abbey, and had live entertainment at Johnny Fox’s Pub with Irish Dancers and a band. We arrived back in Dublin to catch a Football (Soccer) match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium which was rocked by 50,000 enthusiastic spectator’s – half of whom were wearing their authentic kilts! We cheered for the home team of course!
As I rode the plane home to Rome…Pennsylvania that is…. I was thinking of how glad I was not to have waited for “someday.” How glad I was to have this day. I clearly reflect from time to time as I am right now. I certainly have future plans, but today, this very moment, is all I really have.
I’ve had some of my best moments in a lawn chair roasting (burning, flaming) s’mores in my backyard around a campfire with friends. Running our dirt roads with my husband and neighbors, catching the sun set, and watching ducks land on our pond. Enjoy my coffee on the back deck just soaking in the morning rays.
Anyone who thinks they must go somewhere exotic to be exhilarated has never heard a tom turkey’s gobble closing in on you in the Bradford County woods, I can assure you of that!
Being is a state of mind. I can be unsatisfied anywhere with anything depending on MY attitude. I can be smiling and laughing so hard my ribs hurt and I can’t hardly breathe ANYWHERE! Choose an “Attitude of Gratitude.” Be mindful, be present, and love those closest to you. Tomorrow and someday may never be. If you have dreams, make them real and do it now!
Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes. – Irish Proverb