Ireland Part 1: “Learn the Dance”

Last week, Brent and I enjoyed a fully-supported Ciclismo Classico bicycle tour in Ireland, more or less along the southwest coast. COVID restrictions in Ireland had lifted just in time for us to make the journey. I have a handful stories to share, but want to start with this one…

In Ireland, vehicles use the left side of the road, not the right as in the US. Currency is euros, not dollars. Distances are in kilometers, not miles. Temperatures are in Celsius, not Fahrenheit.

We had some adapting to do, all of which seemed to involve math. (That, and keeping your bike to the left so you don’t end up bloodying some unsuspecting driver’s fender.) Anyway, as much as I like math, this was a lot of processing. Especially converting miles to kilometers on the fly, while out riding. On what persisted in feeling like the wrong side of the road.

One evening, a pair of incredibly talented musicians delighted us with traditional Irish music. One introduced an Irish jig, explaining that the time signature (rhythm pattern) of the jig is 6/8. “Well,” he amended, “really a combination of 6/8 and 9/8.”

After they played the jig, one of the guests said he tried to follow that complex rhythm pattern, but couldn’t. The guitar player nodded wisely. “Ah,” he said, “ye just have to learn the dance, then it’ll make sense.”

That casual remark stayed with me. It occurred to me that when learning to do anything new, I tend to “math” my way along. Do the calculations. Analyze all the steps before trying any of them.

But what if I tried a different tack?

Instead of doggedly following the numbers, analyzing the pattern… what if I would jump in and “learn the dance?”

This could actually be more fun.

Where to start? Well… after the first day’s ride, I’d thought to set my Garmin to show distance and speed in metric, which allowed me to follow the route instructions calculation-free. That’s the spirit! I set my phone weather app to show Celsius.

Now I was on a roll. Instead of trying to figure out the nearest American equivalent of unfamiliar menu items, I started ordering the most outrageously Irish foods offered. “When am I gonna get another shot at this?” I asked.

Side note: there was nothing I actually didn’t like, not even fresh seaweed or “mushy peas.”

No, really.

We math-y types sometimes have a hard time going with the flow, but I found this shift in thinking freed me up to enjoy the trip in ways I otherwise wouldn’t have.

All I had to do was let the math take care of itself, and just learn the dance.

What about you? Do you math? Is overthinking your superpower, too? Do you give yourself “analysis paralysis?” I’d love to hear your thoughts in the “Your Turn…” box below the post.

Thanks for reading,


(c) 2021 Jan C. Johnson

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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7 Responses to Ireland Part 1: “Learn the Dance”

  1. Randy Bates says:

    Interesting post, Jan, I enjoyed reading it. Although I am no good at math I too struggle with the super ability to overthink everything. Living in Colombia has reintroduced me to the joys of the metric system. I remember when I was in grade school and they started teaching us the metric system and said, “This is the way of the future, soon we will all be using nothing but the metric system!” I thought, oh great, why can’t we just leave everything the way it is. Apparently I was not the only one who thought that because obviously, we never did embrace the new system. But after living with it for several years now, I have been realizing that we were foolish for not making the switch. The metric system really is so much easier than our imperial system. I especially notice this in doing measurements for my little construction projects here. Wow, what were we thinking?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting and for your kind remarks, Randy!
      I remember when our school first introduced the metric system. A new concept for both my brother, 4 grades ahead, and me. Somehow it clicked easily for me… this was the one and only time I was EVER able to help him with homework!


  2. Pam Bass says:

    Loved this!! Also an over thinker and it’s nice to go on a trip where they do so much thinking for us as we learn how to dance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. undebtedly says:

    This is a great post.

    It applies to language learning too. Ye just have to learn it without converting to English.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t thought of that, but YES–that was my downfall, both studying German and later Spanish. For example, instead of thinking
      {German noun} = {object},
      my brain kept running to
      {German noun} = {English noun} = {object}.
      Thank ye for the visit and comment!


  4. Pingback: Ireland Part 2 | Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

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