Travelling in time

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Last Sunday my mum and i travelled from London Euston around midnight, arriving into Edinburgh at just after 7am. By 8:30 we had gathered at the base of Highland Experience Tours and set off for our 3 day, Ultimate Skye Tour.

Since i was a child i’d grow up watching everything my parents did. As such, i was often confronted with period dramas and particularly historical content. Braveheart was the first impression I had of Scotland. Despite the historical inaccuracies, the film was key to capturing the most fundamental aspects of Scottish culture that would bind my interests to it. Here, Scotland was presented as a wild, dangerous and archetypically uncivilised country. It’s people however were proud, honourable and strong in their interests for preserving clan culture.

Not only is it the strong heritage that draws me to Scotland but as a descendent of clan Grant, it’s my belief that the feeling of ease in a country known for harsh weather comes naturally as a result of my ancestral connection with the country.

Throughout the three days we passed by such places as Stirling Castle, Doune Castle (Castle Leoch in Outlander and Winterfell in GoT), the Wallace monument and made stops at Glencoe, Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield and the Isle of Skye, to name just a few. Briefly put, the first night was spent in Skye, overlooking the bridge back to the mainland of Scotland, shrouded by the mountains backing us to the South. The second night found us situated in a cozy area in Fort Augustus, merely a 5 minute walk from Loch Ness. Understandably, both locations were a romantic testament to Scotland’s undeniable beauty.

Scotland easily fed my imagination with stories both historical and fantastical which meant leaving it impossibly woesome. But having the experience has taught me more than i could have ever imagined.

  • Belief. The central reason for loving this land of old is in tune with the solid beliefs that go beyond all reason. When we learn about myths of dragon slaying, witch hunting, fairies terrorising young children or nymphs that acts as guardians of nature, it is easy to dismiss these childish stories with the logic of science and reason. These unbelievable tales remain folklore for their absurdity among modern minds adjusted to a world where sense prevails. But out in the highlands where respect for these tales flourishes like its wildlife, these fantastical stories hold firm resonance in the minds of civilians and visitors alike. For a moment we can let slip our own sense of the world and truly believe that fantasy is real. That, for example, we may dip our faces in faerie pools for eternal youth, or pay sacrament to the beautiful sisters turned into mountains long ago. Even religion, from a time when it was heinous to deny, is becoming more and more distant from truth and plausibility. But retreating into such barren lands where myth is rife eases the suffocation of reality and allows your mind to wander into realms unknown and exciting.
  • Seclusion. Beyond a point, entering the Highlands means removing yourself from the world you’ve grown up in. Finally, noise is conquered in favour of silence, bar the sounds of nature coming into her own once again. You feel able to breathe because it’s an escape.
  • Time travel. Without the interference of technology it’s easy to stare out into the Highlands and imagine history unfolding before your eyes. In Scotland they believe in preserving old buildings, allowing history to remain frozen in the remoteness of the land.
  • Being. By the time we reached Edinburgh i couldn’t help but feel dismal. We were still in Scotland yet somehow it didn’t feel quite the same. That’s when I realised; it was the Highlands. The Highlands were what affected me. My eyes were welling and i couldn’t pin point why I was so lost not being in the Highlands any longer. It was as if i had fallen in love…but with the entity  of Scotland herself. And then I truly understood what it meant to be gripped by the romanticism of a heritage, to have fallen in love with a land that has faced prejudice, constraint, political battles and national pride.

Going back to what I said about belief and myths, being away despite the short stay still affected me in some way. When we stopped off by a stream each person pilled out of the mini bus, where we were suddenly braced by strong winds. Now, wearing just a t-shirt and cardigan probably isn’t the most appropriate clothing to be wearing in Scotland. But with everyone wearing thick coats I think for me there was a defiant need to prove I could survive the typically brutal Scottish weather. So there i was wondering about, camera in hand, trying to ignore the wind trying to break into my thin barrier of clothing. When I went down to the waterside I put my hand in the current and was surprised to find the water was mild, expecting it to be icy cold. This pool was assumed to have healing properties and  strangely enough, since then I didn’t feel the cold; it was as if i’d become immune to the landscape’s rugged weather. It was probably because I’d gotten used to the cold, nevertheless it was nice to believe something more mysterious was at work here.

Moreover, when my mum and I were making our way to the station before departing Edinburgh, i stopped to take some photos. After about 5 minutes some fireworks went off. Of course this was in aid of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but you can’t deny that the timing was strangely perfect. Finally, just as we were ready to catch our 11.40pm train back to London, we couldn’t. Turned out that the wires above another station had fallen and the train was delayed a total of 6 hours, meaning we had to catch a second at around 5 in the morning. Rational me says it was an accident, naive but optimistic me believes it was Scotland failing to let go of her descendants.

Of course i’d like to believe in the latter-I was enamoured with the place; I felt like a belonged to the landscape. But i guess myth never quite prevails

 

 

 

or does it?

 

 

It’s an experiment

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Here you are, engulfed in the

abyss of your unconscious.

Here you are, braced for knowledge,

ready to

h

a

c

k

at the subject. Why don’t you go

make your d-i-a-l-l-i-n-g notes and

wait for the answer of theoretical understanding

But this you can only hypothesise,

of course.

Life is an experiment. When you experience something unfamiliar, it is no different to making a scientific discovery; at first the mind doubts that this is important, then the thoughts start to settle in and intrigue soon turns to satisfaction-congratulations, you’ve learned something. Now store that in your mind, remember how it has changed you. Likewise, write down the results, keep a record of your progress and use that to produce a second hypothesis, a third, a fourth and so on. Because science is only theory waiting to be disproved right? It’s fallible and inconsistent, like life. The only thing that’s certain is death. But that’s beside the point.

Dispelling Myth

Let’s just mute reality and drift into the abyss.

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Sometimes I want to forget everything. I will shut the door, leave the curtains open and let the night creep into my room like a shunned soul, estranged from warmth and affection. I like to feel lost in its stubbornness, the way it harbours secrets; the colours are muted, the objects obscured and suddenly reality has shifted into a fuzzy conception of what is. And the best thing? I can relax. Like writing. When I can no longer fight for motivation I will block out the world so that time has become a distant notion and all that matters is the here and now. After a few hours I lose my bearings and it’s not long before I turn on the lights and let reality flood back in.

Like reading, your mind shuts itself off from the world and in an instant it’s as if you’re looking into yourself and watching the images unfold. Actually it’s quite strange, and weird. Definitely weird. Because the moment your attention has become invested in the story and images unfolding, you are no longer registering the words you’re reading. But somehow your mind still wanders on, eyes searching the page. It’s one hell of a strange, unconscious process.

But with absorption comes a need to escape. We feel restrained by the chains forcing us to stare into truth. Responsibilities are a burden we all feel drowning us when we’ve become overwhelmed. And what do we do? We procrastinate. But more than that we retreat into a part of ourselves we want to protect from the isolating fears of commitment. We want to escape this prison we call reality. Except reality isn’t all that bad; it’s full of so many cathartic respites and challenging acts that we do feel there’s worth to who we are and why we’re here (without going too philosophical). Yet when I turn to literature, film, and TV, I do so to escape a monotonous reality expelling banal words that drivel on about future in the most conventional ways possible.

Is it wrong to ask for something extraordinary? To stray from that rhythm of: learn, work, marry, die. By no means is that wrong to want, should you wish to follow such a pattern. But to embrace the unorthodox and to be consumed by the inconceivable is something I cannot but yearn for. To live an unpredictable lifestyle is all I could want. Forget the risks because if I’m going to make mistakes I’d rather live them through, standing on the precipice of life and death.

When I talk about dispelling myth i guess you could say it’s a mockery against the term. In vain we press desperate notions vindicating illusion; fantasy; fiction. When you out your dedication to these fabrications there’ll always be people waiting to splutter inconveniences in an attempt to hinder your full enjoyment of fiction. But all that I have discussed proves how essential the imagination is to every single person, no matter what they might say. So if you want to read books about boy bands, you don’t need to feel ashamed. If you want to read about dragons, you don’t need to feel ashamed. If you want to read about aliens, vampires, investigators, fairy tales, god knows what, you don’t need to feel ashamed. There comes a time when society needs to face up to hypocrisy and the only way we’re going to solve it is with time.