Scotland In Langley, April 2014

How can you tell how busy I’ve been? A prolific writer like me hasn’t posted to this blog in months. (My main blog chronicles that tale.) It’s all good, and I’ve been working so hard that I long for enough ease to fit in another walk. Stay tuned. I expect it to happen.

In the meantime, I am giving talks again. The next one is in Langley, WA on Whidbey Island, April 17th, 6:30pm at the Langley Library. The Friends of the Library host talks frequently. This spring my talk about Scotland is fitting into a series of three of my travel talks. March was about bicycling across America (Just Keep Pedaling). April is about walking across Scotland (Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland). And May is about my trilogy of year-round travels through Washington State’s Cascade mountains: hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing (Twelve Months at Barclay Lake, Twelve Months at Lake Valhalla, and Twelve Months at Merritt Lake). One very nice feature? The talks are all free.

Come on by to hear the story behind the stories. Yes, I traveled; but, the real stories are about people, nature, personal growth, food, with a bit of slapstick.

Want me to give a talk somewhere else? Send me an email. I look forward to it. Every time I give a talk and tell my stories I hear other stories in return. It is good all around.

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A Scottish Anniversary 2013

Tom Trimbath (trimbathcreative):

Has it really been three years? But those lessons are with me daily. Thank you Scotland. I am grateful.

Originally posted on Trimbathcreative's Blog (Tom Trimbath):

Three years ago today I was on an airplane heading to Glasgow. I needed a vacation. Life wasn’t flowing the way I’d expected. Of course, the economic turmoil was hitting everyone. There were doubts about whether we’d make it through. My main stocks (AMSC, DNDN) were doing well, yet appeared to be stalled despite progress in the companies. I was frustrated from delaying dreams; yet I knew that just a little more and I could launch into some of my grander plans. Maybe it was best to step out of my routine, step aside for a while, let things improve, and then step back in. I decided to commemorate a success. Ten years earlier I bicycled across AmericaJust Keep Pedaling Something simpler and shorter and outside my normal routine would be to walk across a smaller country. I did. A vacation changed a life. A book was born. I remembered how…

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Honor Excerpts

The book received an honor recently. Unlike many authors who enter contests and competitions, I don’t seek such things. I’m more interested in what people such as yourselves say and think. Evidently, one thought enough to pass along my name.

Journeys Outward, Journeys Inward” was published August 14th, 2013 – a book of travel and transformation. We use the word honor so loosely, yet I am sincere that being included is an honor.

It is easy to see Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland as a travel story and a drinking story. I also know that many of the sales are because the book ranks high for the common search of “walking Scotland”. The walking and the drinking sell the book, but the thinking is why I wrote it.

Their book is about travel and transformation. Travel is about transformation, whether a book is written or not. Usually, the transformation is simple relaxation. That’s why I walked across Scotland, but travel can transform more than a temporary stress level. Travel can change a life. Scotland changed mine. I found a new way to find joy. That’s why I wrote the book. The world needs more joy, and finding new ways for others to find joy is a blessing.

For those of you who’ve read my book, you know about the walk out of Fenwick. For those that haven’t, well, of course I’d be happy if you bought mine; but I also know that a compilation like the one put together by Penelope Bourke may be just what you need. Either way, I am honored. Enjoy.

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Uncelebrated Inspirations

About three years ago I was still home, wondering about this trip I planned for walking across Scotland. It was the end of August and my flight from Seattle was less than a month away. What inspired me to do such a thing? What inspires any of us?

I’ve been playing around with Pinterest, a social media site that is an addiction to some and totally unknown to most. I have a few boards to collect pins, essentially links, to my books and photos, my friends’ web sites and their books and art, some trends, and now a new board: Inspirations. The list of pins is growing, but slowly.

Inspirations are all around. Parents and friends probably get most of the credit; though mass media makes it seem imperative that we all honor celebrities. Pinterest unwittingly encourages public figures too. You can only pin people and things that have images on the web. I’m pretty sure my mom never had a web site. I could try making one for my dad, but that may take a lot of explaining.

My inspirations for walking across a country are the other people that walked across countries and wilderness. Human expansion happened because people decided to search for a better life, or satisfy their curiosity, or maybe to get away from their family and home. I expect the grand plan for humanity’s spread was driven more by adolescent rebellion than by explorers and wise goals.

When I bicycled across America, I unwittingly followed a pioneer trail. I was on two wheels and asphalt. They had walked beside wagons that were rolling across prairies, through deserts, and over mountains. If they could make it, so could I. Granted, many of them didn’t make it. I had sympathy for those that didn’t survive and drew inspiration from those that did.

Walking across a country brings back to mind the early settlers. Someone was the first person to walk along the Clyde, to see a storm assault the coast, and to wonder what was on the other side of the first ridge of the Highlands. 

What did they think was on the other side of the ridge?

What did they think was on the other side of the ridge?

They did so without support, either totally self-sufficient or destined for a temporary existence. I walked in luxury, and was glad for the pubs and the pavement; but, was able to think back and try to imagine what it was like to be the first. Did a settlement form around their homestead? Or, was it the second or the third that finally populated and plowed the land?

Guidebooks do their job well. There are plenty of inspirational Scots, and their monuments are listed and mapped. Every era has its celebrities. By walking the land, instead of being delivered to castle after mansion after museum, it is possible to not be distracted and to then respect and honor those who weren’t celebrated. They weren’t feted. Their histories weren’t recorded. Yet, because of them, a country, a society, and a civilization was born. And I was provided the honor of walking across it in luxury. I’ll never know what inspired them, but I know they inspired me.

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Letting Life In

Has it really been that long? Two months since I last blogged? And yet I think about the book every day. I notice people buying, reading, and talking about it. And the trip continues to change my life. So, how can I not be blogging about it? One, I’m more interested in what others have to say; and two, I’ve been too busy writing and reading.

A writer’s trap exists. One of the glories of writing is expounding on some point of view for thousands of words without anyone interrupting, contracting, or disagreeing. Comfort zones the size of universes can be created and retreated into. Writing can be the ultimate self-indulgence.

If you’re read the book, you know I am like a lot of people. Life can become a custom fitted rut. Drop in, dig it deep enough, and you can’t even see the rest of the world. You’re probably also aware that I find it necessary and healthy to climb out of that rut for a while, even if it means dropping into another one.

Few people wander aimlessly. Most follow a routine, possibly self-selected, but usually imposed by convention and circumstance. Those without routine or external impositions can lead lives filled with story, but not necessarily wealth and not necessarily poverty. Struggling artists struggle for a reason: art overrules money. Yet, “follow your passion and the money will find you” is familiar enough because it happens often enough to inspire thousands or millions.

Lately, I’ve been a bit of a workaholic by necessity. Book sales are nice, but it takes a best seller to pay the mortgage. In the meantime, I’ve had the privilege of being paid to read others’ manuscripts, scour the news for several organizations’ social media campaigns; and for no fee at all, continue writing for my other blog about money and life.

This has been my opportunity to let life in. While writing Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland I was also finishing a five year photo essay of Whidbey Island

A bit of Whidbey Island

A bit of Whidbey Island

- both very internal endeavours. Life stayed outside the doors while I finished my work. Now, news, your reviews, and my support of other creative people has come in to give me fresh perspective.

It is ironic and affirming that walking across Scotland was the right thing for me to do at that time. For three weeks I forced myself out of an old rut, and into a new one that provided hours of meditative walking during which a fresh perspective on life flowed back in to me.

The walk was just about three years ago. I’m not quite ready to do another (unless some publisher wants to pay me for the next one in the series – call me), and I don’t expect that anyone has done something similar as a result; but, maybe I, or we, should. Until we master immortality, life is short; and how long should any of us stay in a rut while life passes by?

And in the meantime, maybe I should get back to writing a bit more often. Stay tuned.

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Do It Different

It’s been a while. So it goes with the life of a non-fiction book. As a person they live the events. As a writer they spend months or years turning memories and notes into stories. As an author they lose control and watch as the book enters the world where it belongs. For the rest of history, the book belongs to the readers; of course, the author is treated to the royalties. I walked across Scotland, spent about a year writing the book, and now eagerly anticipate reviews and readings. It’s been a while since I thought about it as much as I did when I was living or writing it. But, what I have to say about it isn’t as important as what the readers say. So, what do most have to say? Mostly, “Thanks.”, and mostly, “But, I would’ve done it differently.” Good.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m happier to hear that I’ve been an inspiration rather than a model to mimic. Whether it is from my walk across Scotland, my time in Washington State’s Cascades (Barclay Lake, Lake Valhalla, Merritt Lake), or my bicycle ride across America, I’m always touched when I hear that someone decides to do something similar but not exactly the same. Sometimes they tell me as if to apologize. Others think it better to walk Scotland’s highlands, or to be open to using buses occasionally. Hikers and skiers might pick more dramatic destinations or find a more civilized approach like a cabin. Bicyclists have decided I would’ve had more fun if I’d only used quiet country roads instead of highways and interstates. Good.

I’m impressed with anyone who can find the time, and open themselves to the unknowns of long, slow, unplanned itineraries. There is no script. There may not even be much more of a goal than “try to have a good time and come back safe.”

My life has been tumultuous. The main reason I finally flew to Scotland was because the stresses in my life reached a critical, and seemingly mortal, phase. The trip changed my life by breaking me free of old habits, providing a new perspective, and simply giving me a vacation when I needed one.

With perfect reflection, I realize that my life may have been less tumultuous if I hadn’t retired at 38, gotten a divorce, and embarked upon a self-customized lifestyle. If I’d kept my job, my wife, my house, and my conventional life, I would probably be a lot richer, have a lot more stability, and have traveled to a new country every two years. I might also have died of a work-related stress-induced heart attack before I turned 42. Maybe I would have found happiness, but extrapolation suggests not. I would, however, have mimicked my own behaviours for decades.

I did something different. Good. – I think. We never really know until much later.

Back when I was in the corporate world there were plenty of times when people and jobs shifted. Seniority had power, but when we had more autonomy to use other criteria we kept in mind a particular distinction. If someone had twenty years of experience, was it one year of experience repeated twenty times, or twenty years in which they accumulated a variety of experiences?

Anyone who travels will gain experiences that can’t be gained by staying in the same community for decades. Even if they travel according to someone else’s plan and see the world from a tour bus, something different will happen. If they follow someone else’s path, they’re doing it at a different time and in different conditions. If they merely take the idea of someone else’s trip and do something suggestive but only somewhat related to another’s journey, then they are more likely to have days filled with the unexpected.

Several people bought my book because they intend to walk across some part of Scotland. None plan to follow my routeScotland route map Good. They hope to get some feel for the people and the culture, and there’s a gear list in the back. Everyone’s list will be different. Most will probably be smarter than me by carrying a smartphone.

I look forward to hearing their stories. I’d be more impressed if they wrote a review and contrasted our experiences. I’ll be most impressed if they write a book and gave me a reason to read it.

In any case, whether you read Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland, or not; whether you walk across Scotland, or not; I hope that whatever you do, you do at least a little bit different.

Uncertain Journey

Find your own path

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Which Story Did You Read

Tell a story to a friends and each will hear something different. Eight people listening to one person’s story about an unrequited romance may hear nobility, stupidity, innocence, bad timing, glaring blind spots, social commentary, humor, or hope. And, that’s from a crowd that knows the story teller. I told a story about Scotland, and as an author I know I tell it to people who’ve never met me, aren’t aware of my other books, and who live lives with completely different perspectives. The range of stories expands and amazes. With five other books out in the world, I’ve had a lot of practice storing my expectations to better listen to what they read. The e-book has been selling for six months. The paperback has been available for three months. I’m hearing lots of stories.

I walked Scotland for one main reason. I needed a vacation. I purposely wrote Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland with two themes: innovative travel and personal transformation. Every story can be layered into an overwhelming epic, but I’ll leave such ventures to Homer and Virgil. How did they do that without a word processor? The two themes became two genres: Travel and Personal Transformation. I’m not surprised that most readers are buying it because of the Travel hook. Amazon tells me so. The reviews, however, are revealing that readers are reading the transformation thread. People are buying the book about drinking in Scotland, and talking about the thinking I did there. They came for the Guinness. They talk about the joy.

It is gratifying to see both themes recognized. Such a dualism is what I had in mind.

But, the unexpected is equally entertaining.

My style of travel is based on my independence. The less I have to carry, the simpler the means of transportation, the easier it is for me to relax. In some ways, I consider it more of an accomplishment to fly eight hours, arrive jet lagged, rent a car with the controls on the wrong side, and then drive out of the airport and into traffic. A shiver just ran across my shoulders. People talk about traveling to Paris and scurrying around here and there. My ideal Paris trip would be to find a nice cafe that would let me sip and nibble and write and read for days while watching the people. I wouldn’t see most of the sites.

Traveling without a guidebook is an adventure for many, and they say so. For me, traveling without a guidebook is traveling without preconceived notions. I miss a lot, but I also am more likely to see what is there and real, not what someone else expects me to see that may have vanished years or decades ago.

I’m not surprised to find folks who read my story as the outsider Yank trying to understand the indigenous Scottish culture. To me, that’s one of the reasons to travel. The differences define the trip. I particularly like the fact that the “stranger in a strange land” is a theme that works for each homeland and everyone else, too.

Others have focussed on the loneliness, which I admit to some of, but that is an eventual side effect of aloneness. Aloneness is just another way of allowing introspection. Alone And On The Path The trip would have been different if my friends had been along. I would’ve laughed more. Personal transformation versus laughing until my sides hurt. That’s a choice. Sounds like an excuse for another trip. Maybe another book? I admit to an inspiration from Larry Niven’s character, Louis Wu who “is best known among his friends for inventing the “Sabbatical”—going off alone in a spaceship outside the boundaries of known space until one can tolerate human company again.” I imagine doing that, though for me, it is turned around. I leave until I remember what I like about myself, and recognize what I can change.

Artists create art based on their intuition, impulses, and passions. But, after the art is born and released into the world, it grows into something defined by everyone else. Their perspectives, the artist’s subconscious voice, and the changing culture redefine the work. And that’s the way it should be. I wrote a story about walking and thinking and drinking across Scotland. Which story did you read?

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