For those of you who haven’t read my recent posts, and wondered where I’d gone, the answer is Scotland. Scotland a place that is a mix of innovative and historic. A place where the buses and trains run on time, but impressive stone structures decay slowly and sometimes for too long. Call the tourist attractions and then they sound quaint.
Decay is to strong a word, but I won’t do much editing while sitting in a retrofitted phone booth that now houses a very un-ergonomic computer station. At least the price is right. It is free, thought hotel is 70% higher than average.
Some hold onto the past and resist change. Some strive for change without regard to what exists. An unspoken argument lies between. Rather than decay, which is negative, let’s consider maintenance, which is positive. It’s new, but what will it cost to maintain it? It’s already paid for, what does it cost to keep it going? I’ve seen houses renovated meticulously, but sometimes at great expense. I’ve seen houses bulldozed, despite their workmanship; but the new owner wanted something else on that bit of land. Sometimes bulldozers are called for, but it pains me to see them used for a whim. There’s not much of that around here. Maybe they could use a bit more though. They know better than I.
This is one of the reasons for travel. Walking past uninhabitable tourist destinations, while also seeing houses in need of repair, makes me realize that sometimes it is possible to have the worst of both worlds, spending so much to hold onto the past that the present suffers and the future never gets a chance. Such issues exist within my community on Whidbey. Even structures that are a hundred years old have history. Do we save every one? History never dies then. As long as the history isn’t in the way of the past, then save it. In any case, the question should be asked.
We humans are creatures of habit. That’s how we’ve passed along survival skills. But we are adaptable too. The skills from before the Ice Age, didn’t all work as the glaciers approached, and maybe were abandoned, maybe were remembered properly as the ice melted. The past is valuable. Adapting to the present and preparing for the future is necessary.
I have no conclusions. I am on vacation. Days of simply walking, with a simple goal that’s easy to explain, but also puts a label on too simple of an activity. I’m walking to Aberdeen. People understand that. They at least understand the words. Most folks here think I am daft and should just catch a bus or maybe the train. It is harder to describe the simpler activity. Simply walking each day, heading in a general direction. It is mentally quieting, physically easily managed, logistically simple, and one of the most relaxing things I’ve done in months, probably since my ski trip last January.
Why walk? Why not sit on the beach in Hawaii? Because the beach vacation sounds great. We’ve all heard wonderful things about it. And I am sure that it is fine. I look forward to doing that. But I know what I need now. Not the conventional habitual vacation, but a new one, one that is innovative that serves my present, requires little from my past except flexibility, and imposes nothing on my future.
The last time I did something like this I bicycled across America. This isn’t nearly so grand, but that trip changed my life, like another hariline crack in a hatching egg. This trip is showing me more about myself too, though I probably won’t be aware of it until months or years later.
For now, a walk across Scotland is a way to be very present, and as I type that I realize that the present is where I want to be. But first, maybe a return to one tradition, an afternoon nap. I mean, let’s be real, I just walked 50 miles in 4 days. I’m tired!