How come we don’t seem to ever look up? We seem to be walking through life not seeing anything, only what is on our phones, sleeping walking through life. As humans, we are getting lazy. Why would you read a book and learn something when you could watch the movie? Why read a newspaper article when you can get a minute summary off Youtube? Why read this blog when you could watch a TickTock video of a cat playing the piano? How can you enjoy the world around you when you’re too busy posting your precious moment on Instagram for the approval of strangers you will never meet instead of enjoying the moment? Why would we look up when everything is down on our phone? We are losing touch with reality; virtual reality isn’t real life. If we stop for a few minutes and look around us, we can understand what is really going on. Measuring our self-worth with connections and experiences and what is going on in our lives rather than how many Facebook followers or likes we have might be a better life approach. Our attention spans are decreasing. We don’t have the patience to do anything now; we instead float around like goldfish staring down at our phones and watching life just pass us by. I am guilty of precisely the same thing, not being aware of my surroundings, too busy looking down at my phone. When I am up in the mountains, I am either taking photos for social media or using ViewRanger for navigation. I rarely just get lost for the fun of it and just discover things without knowing where I am. I just get lost out of lousy navigation, where I quickly amend my wrong turns.
Ironically my story starts on Instagram when I saw a photo of Dame Street in Dublin, a street I walk down nearly every day. It was a portrait photo and showed the road and its high buildings. I felt I was looking at a different street. I thought I hadn’t seen the upper half of any of these commercial buildings, all of which were old and looked almost historic. It made me realise I was too busy looking at my phone to look up, so I tried to change. I started looking up more often, stopped using my phone as often when walking, and tried to observe things around me.
One day in mid-September, I was heading into the centre of Dublin to get a few things for the house. I was at the top of the double-decker Dublin bus, practising what I was preaching and staring out over the high views from the bus. As we got closer, we went through Stoneybatter. The city skyline changed to dozens of cranes, a great sign of a city progressing. Further on, as far as the eyes could see, was the top of a mountain with very faint aerials sitting on the top. I had never seen this before and had no idea what the mountain was called. I pulled out my phone to go and check, and before the light came on my phone, I froze. An adventure idea came to me! I decided I was going to wander around the city and try to find this mountain. No research, no phones, no maps, no idea where I was going, just going by my own instinct. I decided to scrap my shopping plans and jumped off the bus, and I wandered southwest in the hope to find the peak.
With no idea what way I was going and how I would get to this mountain, I headed to Heuston Station and figured that was west enough and turned and to go straight forward in the hope it would lead me straight to the mountain. If there were no buildings, it would be a lot simpler to get to the mountain. I walked through Kilmainham and passed the prison where rebels of the past were locked up and died fighting for their country’s freedom. I walked through neighbourhoods that I had never been through. I was often tempted to look at where I was on my phone but forced myself to keep my head up. No mobiles were allowed today. I approached the Rascals Brewery, a brewery I like and had no idea was based in Dublin, but I had to stay strong and walk past. I am sure there will be a future drinking session at this brewery soon. It was hard looking for a hill you don’t know the name of and had only seen on the horizon. I had no idea in which direction I was going, but I finally spotted a glimpse of the mountain and realised I had to go further west. I walked, looking for a good turning. I came across the Grand Canal and decided that I may as well change the scenery from busy suburban streets to ducks floating on calm green canal waters. The mountain reappeared and disappeared many times during the walk, and I scurried around trying to find my way there. It was frustrating yet exciting.
After four hours of walking through unknown parts of the city, I spotted a massive tower I knew about but had never seen. I suddenly knew where I was. I was in Clondalkin. The Round Tower in Clondalkin was built on the site of a monastery founded by St. Mochua in the seventh century and is one of the four remaining round towers in County Dublin. It is likely that the primary function of the round tower was to act as a belfry. The tower stands at 25.6m (84ft) high and is the narrowest known tower with a base diameter of 4.04m (13.3ft). The Viking King Olaf the White built a fort here in 852 AD, and the monastery was plundered in 832 and 866. A fortress was built on the site in the middle of the 9th century but was burned. The district remained under Danish control until the Vikings were defeated by Brian Boru in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. In more recent times, the tower has become a museum and a restaurant.
It seemed to take a lifetime to find the mountain, but when I did, it didn’t feel much like a mountain. What seemed like a small hill didn’t take me long, and I soon reached the top, looking out over the city. I sat on a hillside looking down over Dublin, trying to work out where I had been and trying to find that road in Stoneybatter where I first saw the hill. It is always a treat looking down upon a city. Saggart Hill is located in the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains. On the summit, there are two monuments. One is a megalithic tomb dating between 3500 and 3000 BC. The other is a ring barrow from the Bronze/Iron Age dating between 2400 BC and 400 AD. The aerials I could see from afar were FM radio transmitters for Newstalk, Kfm, LMFM, i105-107 and East Coast FM.
But what is the point of all this? Well, there isn’t one! My theory is pointless, my adventure was worthless, and the whole point of this blog is futile. However, I got outside in great weather and enjoyed my day. I didn’t look down at my mobile. Instead, I looked up and got to see everything. I saw life go by without looking at the virtual world. I saw the sun shine on canals and crowded streets instead of comparing myself to others on social media. I didn’t know where I was going, but that was okay because it added to the adventure. I saw things I would have missed if Google Maps had told me the best route to go. This adventure was about doing something different and going out of my comfort zone by getting lost. However, I was tempted to find out where I was on Google Maps. I stuck with it and enjoyed rambling around a city I live in, discovering parts I had never been to. After a bit of research for this blog, I researched how long it should have taken me. Google says it should have taken me 3.5 hours. However, it took me 6 hours, which showed my navigational skills have some room for improvement.
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