“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I was late for tea. Feeling a bit like the mad hatter. I had had a series of unfortunate events with my bookings. Then again, I was in the land of leprechauns. I had been warned. I had taken a leap across the sea, tempted in Nicaragua, plans to visit with my Auntie in London morphed accordingly, and so I arrived in Dublin to attend my first Travel Blog Exchange.
I am a contributing house story creator to Houzz.com, I post my travel experiences and captures to this very blog, I write for Wanderlust and Lipstick: a travel blog for solo women travelers. I have become a blogger. I consider myself a photographer first, I write to weave the images together, to give context, background, to influence the telling of the story, describe the feelings, and the outcome. It was time to connect with like-minded passionate storytellers and world travelers, to step it up and get inspired, to implement new ideas.
I came to TBEX with high expectations for speed dating but left dateless. I came to TBEX yearning to know the secret of pitching and learned to keep throwing. I came with an open mind about Ireland and left enamored. I met as many bloggers and writers as I could engage with. I ate steady amounts of scrumptious food provided by gracious sponsors. I learned about new forms of social media, and I had a list of new resources to savor.
I awoke aprés TBEX a bit groggy after the gift of a delicious and deep badly needed night of sleep (due to my bookings blunderings not TBEX celebrations sadly) with dreams of playing Eloise, taking baths, roaming the halls with my pet turtle, and sliding down the bannisters of the Double Tree Hotel.
And now I was late for tea.
I rushed off at a fast paced walk towards Dawson Street and arrived at the Mansion House in time for introductions. I took in the Queen Anne style of architecture, the original oak panels, the coats of arms, the portraits of predecessors and dignitaries, and the ghosts. I listened to the history of Michael Collins, the peaceful protests of Daniel O’Connell, and the precedence he set for Gandhi, MLK, and Frederick Douglass. It was there in the lobby, as our eyes rested on the final plaque on the wall, it was there that I heard my favorite, most touching and profound story yet.
In 1847, during the great potato famine, the Choctaw Indian Tribe of Oklahoma raised $170 (equivalent to $5000 today) to donate to the starving people of Ireland. Sixteen years prior, the Choctaw Indians were removed from their homeland to a reservation 500 miles away. The path of their exodus is called The Trail of Tears as more than half died of starvation and exposure along the way. As sympathetic survivors of similar circumstances, The Choctaw recognized a familiar plight, they too had experienced forced exile, hunger, homelessness, and cultural rejection.
Never would I have imagined the connection that stretched across these vast waters, cultures and continents. It is so simple really. People all over the world, from different backgrounds, races, and religions, we are all one and the same. We all suffer and feel pain. We all have the capacity for compassion and the ability to be moved to action, to perform and be touched by random acts of kindness. In 1992, two dozen people from Ireland visited the United States and retraced the steps of the Choctaw Indians on the Trail of Tears from Oklahoma to Mississippi.
These are the beautiful stories I seek out in my travels. The stories of beautiful people. The Irish and The Choctaw.
Thanks to TBEX, Failte Ireland, and the Mansion House for this beautiful discovery.