• Can you name the top 116?!?

    10 August 2009
    Yesterday, Bas and I took my cousin, Tiernan, on a long 14 kilometre trek, which took us to the peak of Keeper Hill. It was a very nice walk, with some stunning views, but what really tickled my fancy was the official blurb for the trail. If you haven't gone trekking before, you might not be aware that there are lots of signposted walks all around the place (certainly in Ireland and the UK, and I think in most other countries too). They're highlighted, maintained and advertised by different agencies, and they're absolutely fabulous. You can normally found out about them online, or in brochures, which usually tell you a bit about the trail, what you might find, anything noteworthy about the area or what you're likely to encounter. In the blurb for this trail, which you can find by CLICKING HERE, it stated proudly that Keeper Hill was the 117th tallest mountain in Ireland!!! That both cracked me up and filled me with admiration!!!!!

    First, it cracked me up because (a) the idea that somebody counted all the way from the highest mountain, down 117 places, is pretty ludicrous!! And (b) who the hell would boast about being 117th about ANYTHING?!?!?

    But at the same time I admired the sheer in-yer-face-ness of the boast!! I heard a line, many years ago, that I've often thought about in my travels -- those with the least to boast about are proudest of what they have. In my experience that's very true, and I think it's a wonderful thing, one of the joys of travelling. I love meeting people who don't have a huge amount to brag about, but who are filled with pride by what little they DO have. It's very easy to be cynical if you live in a quiet, unspectacular part of the world (as I do). I love the people who knock that cynicism on the head. "Everst? Kilimanjaro? K2? You can keep them!!! WE have the 117th tallest mountain in Ireland- so there!!!!!!"

    I think there's a lesson in that blurb for all of us -- we shouldn't spend our lives dreaming about glories that exist in other parts of the world, but make the most of what we have close to hand. Our society promotes a dream world -- holidays to exotic climes, beautiful size zero models, luxury houses full of all the mod cons -- and tells us that we have to chase those dreams to be truly happy. But maybe true happiness comes with being able to look at what you possess and be absolutely content with it.

    I've got to be honest -- I'm doing more preaching than practising on this one. I DO chase dreams. I DO yearn for more, in my work and in my play. I DO sometimes feel that the great party of life is taking place somewhere else, and that I have to go hunt it down if I want to take part. But reading that line about Keeper Hill being the 117th highest mountain in Ireland... well, it made me realise, as I often have realised before, that I should be doing more to appreciate what I have, rather than hungering after what I haven't.

    It also made me want to go climb the other 116 tallest mountains in Ireland, but that's a moral for another time!!!!!


    By the way, I'm thinking of moving this blog over to Wordpress, as I have been having problems with Blogdrive recently. I have set up a new page to trial it, at the following address: http://therealdarrenshan.wordpress.com/ Any feedback or advice would be much appreciated...
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