Follow Your Dream, Day #222: Adventures in Kaohsiung

And if we've only got this life
In this adventure, oh, then I
Want to share it with you

--Coldplay, "Adventure of A Lifetime"

Is there anything better in life than adventure?

Experiencing new cultures. Beholding timeless vistas. Savoring different cuisines. *Laughter.* Skipping across the world as a rock skips across a pond.

And Lord of the Dance is an utterly amazing way to have just such an adventure.

Think about it. This product -- Lord of the Dance -- exists for one purpose: to bring you *joy.* The hallmark of Michael Flatley's products is joy, and every night, the young men and women in these photographs do something so physically demanding, so utterly impossible, that it brings audiences to their feet all over the world.

The requirements to be in a Michael Flatley show are extreme. You've got to be a top-notch Irish dancer in Olympic-level condition. You've got to have a level of focus and work ethic that pushes through all pain barriers, be they physical, mental, or emotional. It's a high-octane, work-hard-play-hard life.

Sometimes the hours are extreme. Sometimes you're sleeping at odd angles on the bus. Sometimes the flights feel like they never end. Sometimes there are mornings when it takes a long time to get seized-up muscles to walk properly.

But here's the truth: it's the best experience in the world. You're *alive.*

Tom Cunningham, when he visited us in Poland during the last tour and addressed the troupe, said something that's really stuck with me about life after showbiz: "When you work in an office, nobody gives you a standing ovation when you go home."

Tom and I are nearly the same age. I know exactly what he's talking about; I poured my twenties and thirties into being a good little corporate soldier -- long careers in resort development and software production -- and I can tell you point-blank that I'd give almost everything to turn back the clock and be able to do what these kids on tour can do.

Hence why we're celebrating their journey with their own photographs. Look closely -- these aren't carefully-airbrushed corporate images festooned with logos. These are the actual photos from the dancers themselves. This is *their* journey, and we're showing it to you so you can enjoy it with them.

These photos are from two different adventures happening in Kaohsiung, Taiwan: the first is a beach excursion to Cijin Island, featuring Giada Costenaro Cunningham, Fran Dunne, Nicole Lonergan, Jessica Aquila Judge, Joe Harrison, Rachael O'Connor, and Gillian Monaghan. (Photo credit: Joe Harrison)

Cijin sits just off Kaohsiung's southwestern tip, easily accessed by a ten-minute ferry. It has several sites of interest, such as the famous Cijin Lighthouse atop the hills. There's also the Cijin Windpower Park and the Seashore Park, as well as cultural sites such as the Tianhou Temple.

It may seem strange to think of going to a beach in January, but remember: Taiwan sits below the Tropic of Cancer, at the same latitude as Hawaii. I used to live in Hawaii; even in January, the ocean is quite warm, especially if you're coming from northwestern Europe.

The second adventure is an excursion to Kaohsiung's Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at Lotus Lake, on the northern outskirts of Kaohsiung, featuring Aine Malone, Nicole Kelly, and Cyra Taylor. (Photo credit: Aine Malone.)

Representative of traditional Kaohsiung culture, there are paintings inside the temple depicting Ksitigarbha. (In case you're curious, Kṣitigarbha is one of the four principal bodhisattvas in East Asian Mahayana Buddhism -- the others are Samantabhadra, Manjusri, and Avalokiteśvara -- and is considered the guardian of children.) In the Tiger Tower, there are paintings of twelve Magi and the Jade Emperor's thirty palaces, as well as paintings of Confucius. The towers have a double spiral staircase, one each for ascending and descending visitors. Pay particular attention to the dragon and tiger photos attached to this journal entry; entering a dragon's throat and coming out a tiger's mouth symbolizes turning bad luck to good fortune.

...Which, if you know anything about the story of Michael Flatley and how Lord of the Dance was born, is rather apropos.

These journal entries hopefully not only give you a look into life on tour with Lord of the Dance, but serve as a reminder: the world is vast and full of experiences. Go out there and enjoy it.

#FollowYourDream

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