Love & Luck
The Cliffs of Moher
Every time a traveler goes to Ireland and doesn’t stop at the Cliffs of Moher, a banshee loses her voice. That’s right, sweet pea, a banshee. We are in Ireland after all. Shrieky ghosts abound. And as your tour guide and now friend, I’m required to tell you that one simply does not go to Ireland and not see the cliffs. They’re nonnegotiable. Required reading. They are the entire point.
Here’s why. The cliffs are gorgeous. Breath-stealing, really. But not in the soft, endearing way of a sunset or a wobbly new lamb. They’re gorgeous like a storm is gorgeous—one of those raw, tempestuous ones that leave you feeling awed and scared at the same time. Ever been trapped in a car during a particularly brutal thunderstorm? The cliffs are that kind of beautiful. Think drama, rage, and peace all packed up into one stunning package.
I studied the cliffs for years before I figured out their secret—the thing that takes them from merely scenic to life-altering: they’re beautiful because they contradict themselves. Soft, mossy hills turn to petrifying cliffs. A roiling sea rages against a serene sky. Visitors stand around in a combined state of reverence and exuberance. Before the cliffs I knew that beauty could be delightful and inspiring. After the cliffs I knew that it could also be stark and miserable.
In fact, the cliffs are an awful lot like a certain heart I know. You know, the one that has managed to contain both splintering joy and shattering sorrow and still remain exquisitely beautiful?
Not that anyone asked me.
HEARTACHE HOMEWORK: Let’s unleash a little rage, shall we, pet? I want you to find something to throw. A rock? An annoying pigeon? Now name it. Give it the identity of the thing that is bothering you the most about this situation, and then let it fly. Sometimes a little rage is good for the system. After that, I want you to take a deep breath. And then another. Notice how the breaths just keep coming? Notice how they just take care of themselves?
—Excerpt from Ireland for the Heartbroken: An Unconventional Guide to the Emerald Isle, third edition