King David expressed in the Psalms his desire to be like a dove and fly away and be at rest.
That’s how I feel right now. I long to fly away. Maybe not literally, like a dove, but in the more modern-day fashion, aboard a plane.
Whenever life gets too overwhelming, whenever my soul craves space and peace, all I can think about is getting on a plane by myself and escaping somewhere. And usually the “somewhere” that comes to mind is very specific, a place I lived in for a time and still think of with much fondness and wistfulness. I think of Scotland. Beautiful, wild, rugged, magical Scotland.
This morning as I sat working from my computer, still in my pjs, trying to overcome a nasty bug that has been tormenting me with congestion, a cough and a sore throat for over a week, thinking about my crazy work schedule this week, a school paper due next week that I haven’t even started yet, my lack of sleep lately, and all the myriads of things I still have to do, as well as my despondent emotional state lately, all I could wish for was a way of escape. And when a Celtic melody started playing mournfully on my Pandora radio, images of my beloved Scotland flashed through my mind, provoking an intense longing within me to once again ramble across its rugged terrain and breathe deeply its nippy, wholesome air.
I last visited Scotland in 2004, doing a three week trek around the island with my sister, visiting old friends, making new friends on the journey, hiking, exploring, dancing in pubs, and staying in hostels. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and one I wish I could repeat. The breathtaking scenery, encompassing gorgeous lochs, moors, glens, isles, bens (mountains), castles and quaint little villages, was like balm for a weary, beauty-starved soul, and my weary, beauty-starved soul sure could use some of that magic right about now. Weary of deadlines for school and work, stuck in the lackluster suburbs, and just generally aching to get out of the drudgery of my life, even a brief time away to some place like Scotland would do my soul and spirits good. Just a few weeks backpacking alone across Scotland would be like heaven to me.
But alas. I neither have the means nor the time to jump on a plane and go where my heart wishes. Nor will I have the means or the time for the next three years at least. I am stuck here. And for someone as full of wanderlust as myself, to be stuck in one place–especially this particular place–is incredibly difficult. It’s been three years since I’ve been out of the country, and that’s unusual for me. From 2002 to 2010 the longest I went for not traveling abroad was one year. So I guess it’s no wonder I’ve got the “itch,” as it were.
I guess I must grin and bear it. And simply dream of happier times. And sparkling lochs, and mouth-watering chips with brown sauce, and red double-decker buses, and crumbling castles, and men in kilts playing bagpipes, and smoky pubs, and fog-shrouded hills of heather, and the smell of salt-air on craggy coasts.
And now, after such sweet mental meanderings, I must get back to work.
(The photos above are not my own, but are places in Scotland I’ve seen and been to. The first is a photo of the famous Eilean Donan castle in the western highlands of Scotland, and the second is a photo of the colorful fishing village Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull off Scotland’s western coast. I have very fond memories of evenings spent in a delightful pub called the Mish Nish in Tobermory.)