The Beauty of Absence
One of the most iconic parts of Ireland is its vast, green landscapes. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to when I decided to go to Ireland. I wasn’t aware of how much I would be taken by these spaces… and the lesson that I would learn from these spaces.
Some of the most beautiful landscapes that I encountered and the most powerful moments that I experienced were those in which I looked out and saw nothing…
Nothing but a dirt road leading around a corner into an unknown space.
Nothing but green, for miles and miles.
Nothing but water, meeting the sky at a far-off edge.
Nothing but fog, with just a hint of a cliff peeking through.
There were many times during my trip where my mind wandered to thoughts of absence, the absence of people, and the absence of human intervention, and how beautiful a thing that can be.
My memories of standing in the middle of nowhere, on Wicklow Mountain, just staring out at an empty field of green are so vivid. The colour so vivid. The air so clear. The feeling of the ground rooting me down so strongly. There was absolutely nothing else I needed in that moment, except for that moment.
I remember sitting cross legged at the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, patiently waiting for the fog to take it’s course and expose the beauty of what was hidden just beneath. I loved the fog that day – it was so real. The nothingness of fog was everything that day.
The greatest moment was dangling my feet over the water off the cliffs edge trails in Howth. This was such an impromptu trip for me – it was the clearest day I had while in Ireland and I remember looking out and seeing nothing but water. A view that felt vaguely familiar with it’s blue waters and bright clear skies – but I appreciated it on a whole new level that day.
It wasn’t until I was in Ireland, encountering these incredible places of nothingness that I realized the beauty of absence.
We encounter these parts of the world all the time, grass, fog, water, sky… but suddenly in that place I saw absolute beauty. And I realized that our world has become so clouded with the things around us that we lose sight of the beauty of absence. We lose sight of the happiness and wholeness that can be found in absence.
For me, this was more than the physical landscape around me… I felt a huge sense of comfort in the absence of people, activity… things… the noise of everyday life. More than being present… there was a sense of freedom, and a great appreciation for just being in this world.
In those moments, my life was not defined by the people that surrounded me, the clothing I wore, the things I owned, the activities I participated in. I was whole in those wide-open spaces.
I think the most powerful thing about acknowledging the beauty in absence, was exactly that – that I am whole. That although I might desire and enjoy the noise of everyday life, I don’t need it in order to be me. And in fact, the absence of everything else actually helped me to find myself. It reminded me of how important it is to find those moments to step out of our everyday worlds, find those open spaces and get back in touch with who you are when you are free from everything else.
Although Ireland, with it’s valleys and cliffs, provided a million life changing moments and lessons – I came back knowing that I don’t need to go to the ends of the earth to feel whole (although I will always continue to do this), because I can find these opportunities here, at home. It’s just a matter of pausing and making it happen.
What might this look like? Maybe it’s taking a drive out to the country and getting lost in the fields around you. Maybe it’s walking out to the soccer fields near your house, laying in the grass and getting lost in the clouds above you. Or maybe it’s hiking to the middle of the woods and surrounding yourself with nothing but the trees, the roots and the dirt that make up that space.
There is so much value in the absence of phones, television, chatter, honking, streetlights, sidewalks, stores, houses, music – the noise and busyness of everyday life. Sometimes we need that absence, to reconnect with what has been here long before us, and to reconnect with ourselves.
I think that it was the sheer power of this nothingness that really allowed me to be present. And to realize what it feels like to be truly whole. Absence from the people, the places and things I know was such a wonderful way to enjoy life.
I challenge you to consider the moments in which nothing has become everything for you.
Where do you go to find the beauty of absence? What are the spaces that make you feel whole?
I would love to hear from you 🙂
Read Alone in Ireland | Part 1, all about rediscovering the importance of being present…