Saturday I gave a talk and slideshow at the Langley Library (here on Whidbey, not the Langley near D.C.). Nice crowd. There were a few empty seats, but not many. Impressive, especially considering the weather, which was appropriately Scottish. Scotland and Whidbey, two places that know mists, fogs, rains, and grey. Why choose to live in such a place? Look at what else is there: life, green, clean water, and plenty of excuses for hot drinks during the day, hearty meals throughout, and fine beverages at night. Choice is a powerful tool, even regarding emotions; “I’d learned that every moment held every emotion, and that all I had to do was choose.” – excerpt from Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland by Tom Trimbath
Writing a book is an exercise in taking an idea; expanding it into a story; crafting it for clarity, insight, and entertainment; and ideally, leaving the reader with a definitive phrase or two that they use to describe the book to themselves and others. Frequently, the initial idea and inspiration is not the same as the resultant theme and insight. That was true of my journey across Scotland. That was true of writing the book.
I went to Scotland to relax and enjoy, because I definitely wasn’t doing that at home. Financial woes happen, can spawn stress, which can impact health. I needed a break, and five doctors and healers recommended either expensive tests, or a lot more wine and definitely a vacation. Wine is good, and walking I enjoy; but, with a slight change I could walk across a country in homage to my first book, Just Keep Pedaling, and find Guinness and whisky every night. I didn’t even intend to write a book about it. What I ended up with was a book and a story, and an introduction to a sadly uncommon emotion: joy. Folks from Saturday will probably remember the anecdotes, but I know that for me, and for the theme of the book, the resultant theme and insight was and is,
“Every Moment Holds Every Emotion. Choose.”
Understandably, amazon’s genres for the book are primarily Travel. At least as the book is introduced to the world, that’s how people will find it. The heart of the book is reflected in the other genre: Personal Transformation. They seem unassociated, yet dedicated travelers know that travel changes the traveler.
My major benefit gained from the journey has been a better life. That’s rather unsubtle, isn’t it? Yet, such an experience is why the trip that wasn’t supposed to be a book became one. How could I not tell that tale? Read the passage as I left Fenwick. The moment stretched out to a few paragraphs, and hopefully I describe it well enough there and in the epilogue. The essence though, is that for one moment, I experienced truer joy than I remembered in decades of living. There was no drama. There was a series of thoughts that opened a string of emotions that led me to that point. The awareness was that the joy I’d been seeking by doing the right thing, and by trying to please others, and by doing what I was supposed to do was there regardless of any mental exercise or physical accomplishment. I stood in a moment when I could’ve decided to be dismal to match the weather, or joyful because I decided to concentrate on the best things from that moment. That was true for the previous moment, and every moment before that. It was true for the next moment and every moment after that. In the past I’d spent too much time choosing the stoic, the resolute, the determined, the dismal. I could have demonstrated the same responsibility and perseverance and enjoyed the tasks. Every moment holds every emotion choose.
Of course, I hope you choose to buy the book and tell all your friends to do so too. (Know of a book club that might be interested?) I hope it pays my bills (including my mortgage – sorry guys) and gives me enough to write the next book and the next. But, I know I also hope that even if you don’t buy the book, if you’ve had trouble finding joy, you stumble upon a way that works for you, too.