Sunday, October 28, 2012

Home from My Scottish Adventures

The modern formula for happiness goes something like this: a stable, comfortable home life, where things usually go as expected, punctuated by occasional adventures in an unpredictable, exotic elsewhere.

Sometimes people try to bring more of the elsewhere into their daily lives and become ex-pats, or moving to Ocean City. But most of us try keep our regular lives free from the pollution of random excitement -- home is the safe place, and the characteristic victims of the modern world are refugees, who no longer have a safe place they can go home to. On the other side there is a creeping tendency for vacation destinations to become ever more like home, with the same stores, restaurants, and predictability. This leads the more adventurous to go every farther afield in their search for a change. Yet the basic formula, I think, holds true for much of our world.

I have just had my adventure for this year, in Scotland. I went to a part of the world where I have never been and saw thousands of things I have never seen before, some of them wonders. From the scenery of Skye and Glen Coe to the stones of Castle Doune and the Glenelg brochs, I have marveled and been lifted beyond myself. I also shared these experiences with my 18-year-old daughter, and marveled also at the delightful person she has become.

What is an adventure without difficulties to overcome? I had my first set when I tried to drive 50 miles from Edinburgh to Stirling on Tuesday morning. I had not driven on the British side of the road in about ten years, and I believe it has been three or four since I last drove a manual transmission. I was trying to follow confusing directions in rush hour traffic through a big city where I had never been, remember to use the clutch, find the gears, stay on the left side of the road though complex roundabouts, and so on. It was, um, challenging. And then Friday, coming home, my flight from Edinburgh to London Heathrow was 90 minutes late, leaving me to run through the immense airport to catch (barely) my flight home. I did something I have never done before, shoved my way to the front of the security line, telling everyone that my plane was about to leave.

Scotland was wonderful; I would love to go back. But it is also great to be home with the rest of my family.

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