After 12 hours of relentlessly exploring as many nooks of Edinburgh as humanly possible, it’s now a window. And a book. (Dune) A sunset behind a castle. And the sounds of a dozen languages spoken in what has to be one of the most international cities on the planet.
There are places in the world, and then there are places in the world that are named World of Whiskies. I crawled into the fetal position near the 30 year Macallan. I like this big ole’ island north of France.
By early next week, I’ll be rummaging around on this, the Isle of Skye. There are worse places to spend your time. In seven hours, I’ll be flying across the Atlantic Ocean. In a week, I’ll be poking around London pubs. In about two days, walking the wharf in Edinburgh. Somehow, this trip gets more exhilarating when detailed out of chronological order.
1. Human beings don’t need so many possessions. The only thing that keeps me from throwing out half of what I own is the nagging voice in the back of my brain that says one of two things:
“STOP THINE SELF. You may need that one day.” When I ask that voice what I’m going to need 77 pogs and a slammer still sticky with gross candy residue for, my brain says nothing. It’s silent like it knows something I don’t. And the eerie silence always convinces me that it, in fact, does.
“PUMP THE BRAKES. Remember that one time in 10th grade when the girl you had a huge crush on said you looked sort of cute in that shirt before she went back to living her life without you? If you throw this garment away, you will never be able to recall that memory ever again.”
Understandably, it is difficult to erase tangible pieces of our life:
But lets try to focus our energies, shall we? My goal: Whittle it all down to a few plastic totes worth of goods and a few quality, worthwhile items. So far on the list: My 1958 Hermes 3000 typewriter, my bed, my lovely oak desk and very lovely dresser. Spend your money on experiences, not possessions.
(Exception that proves the rule: Books. Never, ever feel bad about buying a book.)
2. Procrastination is somewhat vital to creativity. I’ve finally given into this one. We’re all so guilty about procrastination. We always use it as a this terribly universal excuse for not fitting the classic mold of productivity. And maybe we’re not fitting into that classic mold.
But you can’t have love without heartbreak, you can’t have a sense of danger without knowing what safety is. Somewhere isn’t anywhere until you know what nowhere really is:
(Update: This GIF refuses to work. It should show the bird walking down the up escalator. It’s always the little things.)
You need to have a touchstone. Productivity isn’t universal, and when it comes to the creative process, you need to know when you’re being lazy so that you can get your life together and be, well, not lazy.
3. Always, always have something on the horizon to pursue. I’ll be in Scotland in 18 days. After that, scheming for the next adventure will begin immediately. This is what gives life purpose and power: The desire to continually achieve something that makes you fundamentally happy.
It’s almost painfully simple. But it constantly astonishes me how many people reject simplicity because of a belief that life needs to be complicated to be worthwhile. Be like this hilarious owl. Relentlessly pursue new things for you eyeballs to absorb:
My trip into the deep, foggy wonder of Scotland is coming together. I’ve decided on a bus. A big, yellow, wild and sexy bus. Haggis Adventures runs these all over Scotland, from day trips to 12-day excursions into Nessie’s lair. I opted for a 3-day push into the Highlands, which includes hiking on the mysterious, wondrous Isle of (FUTURE BABY NAME ALERT) Skye.
Armed with little more than wit, beguilingly good-looks and backpacks crammed with photography equipment, the duo plan excursions into north central Germany and the Scottish Highlands – eventually combining forces in London. Drawing on deep reservoirs of probably pretty decent travel savvy, the two plan on finding something millions of travelers constantly fail to find: The soul of travel and the capacity to enjoy – even revere – feeling homesick for places they’ve never been.
The powers that be see it fit to provide me funds to travel again this year. Those powers, of course, being my state and federal government. All political assessments aside, it seems a bit ridiculous that they’re so cheery about giving me a “rebate” on my taxes - when all they did is hold on to what was rightfully mine for months and months on end before begrudgingly handing it back over.
That is neither here nor there. Well, scratch that, it’s actually both. The rebate is going to come here, so I can go there:
There being Scotland. I don’t know where, really. I know Edinburgh will be included. I don’t exactly know when. Probably in the spring. All I really know is it’s going to happen. And I remember exactly how I came to the conclusion.
I watched something on either the History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel or Travel Channel (or all the above) at roughly 4:00 a.m. in a semi-drowsy daze and several things were brought to my immediate attention:
1. It’s absolutely f%#@ing gorgeous. There is no surefire way to find fault in this logic. It’s on the North Sea. It’s filled with smoke, rolling hills, fog, peat and mystery. There are castles. Castles, people. [Deep breath] Castles. There are beautiful people speaking in beautiful, gorgeous accents. If you don’t find this country beautiful, even by happenstance from thousands of miles away, you’re an imbecile.
3. History. The entirety of the United Kingdom is only 7,000 square miles larger than the state of Minnesota, but more intense crap has happened on that island than any one brain can really digest. And a lot of it happened in Scotland. History nerds, unite.
4. There is a train called “The Night Scotsman.” I repeat, there is a train called “The Night Scotsman.”
Attention: There is a train called “The Nights Scotsman.” Do I have your attention? And supposedly it still operates in some form along the eastern coast like it did in its hay day. It simply demands you sit by a slightly cracked window with a brandy snifter of whisky and listen to the moonlit hills bounce the sound of thousands of tons of steel back into your ears. I’m sold. Hard.
Tackling Vegas after adjusting to a four- and two-hour time difference is no easy feat, especially when it’s 98 degrees outside, the droplets of water that hit your face/arm may be rain - but might also be some other liquid - and every street corner is home to a dozen prostitution-peddling “merchants” who sometimes use industrial-strength equipment to pry your fingers open and force you to take a pamphlet.
(Above, an over-exposed shot of New York…in Las Vegas. Totally dominated the roller coaster, but my future as a fighter pilot is probably in jeopardy…my neck still kills.)
What you see there is a Black Convertible Mustang (BCM: A quick Google-search reveals BCM is also known as Baylor College of Medicine and Baptist Community Ministries. All good company.)
And THAT is what our road trip will be conducted with.
Back to Vegas Night 1 - my brain exploded early on in the evening, so that sorta dulled the experience. The reason is simple. Vegas is a complete sensory overload. It’s simply too much for the brain to take in. I imagine people have one of two responses to the Vegas phenomenon: Their face looks like this after 20 minutes or they end up just flicking their brain off for a bit.
I chose the latter. So did my compatriot, who shall be dubbed Lady One. Lady One had the four-hour time difference…so while we wanted to see many more explosions and fire, we settled for dipping in and out of casinos, eating good food and dabbling in various Vegas delights.
So it’s not even artistic-cool blurry. My failing. In person, it most certainly is. The rest of the trip will be more easily documented with better cameras.
Now, it’s off to start Day 2. First, IHOP for some rooty-tooty-fresh-and-fruity things. (At least that’s what I’m told.) Then a big pile of concrete.