I was exhausted. My arm burned from hundreds of futile casts. My feet ached from three days of stumbling on jagged rocks that on more than one occasion sliced up my hands. The violent, frigid waves continued to smash me, sending routine chills down my spine. But I had no intention of leaving.
Bathed in the light of the brilliant setting sun, the rugged Irish coast was simply too stunning to abandon and my need to catch my first sea bass too gripping to relinquish. I just needed one more cast. One more chance to hook the ever-elusive fish. One more chance to experience the euphoria I had spent days fruitlessly pursuing.
No matter if I’ve caught fifty fish or zero, every day I spend on the water ends this way – desperately searching for one final moment of jubilation before the chapter comes to an undesired close. Now with the sun setting on my time in Ireland, I find myself in the same boat, frantically trying to take in all that the Emerald Isle has to offer.
The more time I spend in Ireland, the more I am amazed by the country’s immense beauty and incalculable opportunities for exploration and adventure. You could spend a lifetime roaming the island’s verdant hills and wading its rushing rivers and still not fully experience Ireland’s endless bounty. It is a realization that at times has made my short tenure here feel like a cruel punishment.
Making matters worse has been the full slate of work I’ve undertaken, which has far too often kept me shackled to my desk. Part of what inspired me to apply for the Mitchell was famed writer Edward Abbey’s words that people should be a “part-time crusader” in order to spend the other half of their lives seeking pleasure and adventure. Recognizing that for too long I had been a “full-time crusader,” I planned for this year to be an intentional departure from a work dominated lifestyle. The results have been wanting.
So now as I near the culmination of my time in Ireland, I am making a conscientious effort to change course. For the time being, the tide of emails can continue to rise largely unabated – they will no doubt still be there in a few weeks time. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the peaceful rivers that wind through the bucolic Irish countryside or the fierce Atlantic waves and wind that batter the rugged coast.
Soon enough I will find myself standing waist-deep in a paradisiacal river with trout surreptitiously sipping the mayflies that gracefully dance on the water’s surface. The fading sunlight will slowly be replaced by the soft glow of the moon, but I will remain steadfast, refusing to accept the imminent closing of this once in a lifetime chapter. With bated breath, I will repeatedly whisper “one more cast, one more cast,” desperately searching for one final moment of magic on the magical Emerald Isle.