If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
I’m well aware that it’s a big world. Some would say small, since technology enables us to connect with people in other countries faster and more easily that ever before. But it still feels big because I’ve seen so little of it.
A couple years ago, I went to hear Rick Steves talk about travel and his life as a travel writer. I hadn’t occurred to me before, but he said there’s a difference between “travel” and “vacation.” Vacation implies relaxation, possibly just laying about on a beach or camping in a tent. Travel implies a purpose beyond relaxation. When you travel, you set out to interact and learn about people and places, about the things that make them unique.
I don’t want to be one of those travelers who pops from historical site to historical site, museum to museum without having time to let it soak in. I don’t want to be at the mercy of a plane or train schedule, other than landing at the airport and then catching the flight home. In between, I want to live the moment.
There are so many places I would love to see. Provençe. Italy’s Cinque Terre. Kenya. Egypt’s Great Pyramids. I have good friends in Portugal and England I would dearly love to see. Speaking of England, I’d like to take my mom to Cornwall someday, before either of us is too old to appreciate it. Even in the U.S. of A., I’d love to spend time in the Rockies, or Yellowstone, or revisit the desert southwest. Hiking the Grand Canyon and Canyon du Chelly are on my bucket list.
But if I had to choose one place that I had to see before I die, it would be Isle of Skye, Scotland.
I’ve been in love with Scotland for years. It’s like unrequited love, it’s that insistent and determined. In my journal, I have the itinerary of a 3-week tour all mapped out, right down to the rail stations and the B&Bs closest to them, as well as the sites I need to see.
Something about Skye, though, begs me to stop and stay. Maybe for good.
But this is travel we’re talking about, not transplanting!
If money, time, and obligations were no object…if everything aligned with cosmic perfection…I would travel to Scotland, pop in at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and maybe Inverness…see some of the sights…and then I would go to Skye. At Skye, I’d find a nice little self-catering cottage…and just be for a few weeks. Just live as if I’d always been there. If I had company, I’d be glad for it. And if I was alone, I’d be glad for the solitude. I might even get my novels written!
Skye, “Eilean a’ Cheò” – like many of the wild places of Scotland – just IS. It’s not manicured and landscaped into a shadow of its former self. It’s wild, windswept, and yet welcoming. Every photograph I’ve ever seen evokes peace and jaw-dropping beauty. And parts of it are not all that “wild” but each village and town, and each island of the neighboring Hebrides, has its own gift for the world. I’d love to see them for myself.
The second part of the question is the most difficult. What will I do to make sure I get there?
If I had that answer, I’d already be there. Perhaps if I make myself ready, the opportunity will present itself.
God only knows how much time I have left. My days were all written long before I came into being. But on the hope and prayer that I have time to make travel to Skye a reality, I can begin to make myself ready.
My income sources are all mercurial (which means, it’s feast or famine, lately leaning toward famine), but I know for this to really mean something, I have to accomplish it on my own. And the best way for me to do that is get off my bum and get published already. Stop being afraid. I suffer from the old writer’s affliction of “If I don’t try, I can’t fail, but I also can’t succeed.” At least I’m seeing this affliction now and not sitting on my sofa in the old folks’ home. I don’t yet have a practical answer to this dilemma, but I know what my instincts are saying.