Four years ago tonight I was back home and wondering what was going to happen next in my life. I’d just walked across Scotland, back from what was supposed to be a vacation and stepping into a realization that my life had changed and that a book would result. Walking, Thinking, Drinking Across Scotland has an embryo. There was enough there to tell me something would be coming, but there was a lot of gestation before anything would be born. The origination of ideas and inspirations are sudden. Manifesting them takes energy and trust. I continue to trust, and wonder.
Has it really been four years? It seems much shorter. The world has gone through significant crisis since then, and we aren’t obviously back to a familiar normal. Hopefully, that’s progress. In the time that since my walk across Scotland, the people have debated and voted and almost become a sovereign nation again. Not this time. In the time since my walk, personal finances, or at least mine, have been tested in trials that exceed all previous challenges. Normal isn’t in sight, but there’s a path or three that may lead me there.
Travel is simple and powerful. Those who’ve read the book know I encountered unfiltered joy for the first time. It arrived unbidden, unannounced, and departed quietly with an echo that leads me back to it. It didn’t have to happen in Scotland, but it was in a normal patch of countryside, without any obvious romantic influences that I recognized that joy was in every moment. All I had to do to enjoy it was relax. I also learned that such a simple insight is difficult to enact and that practice, practice, practice was required – at least for me.
If you want a list of the world’s turmoils go check any major news site. There’s no need for me to deliver a fresh load of worry and woe. If you want a list of my personal finance turmoils, go visit my blog for the book, Dream. Invest. Live., where there’s been a wealth of material since I returned home. My turmoils aren’t unique. My solutions and plans aren’t unique. The specifics of my situation are unique, but the feelings and emotions experienced within the process are as unique as anyone’s.
A common desire is to find a balance within our lives because every life has many conflicting forces working to assault any notion of stability. And yet, stability in various guises is what most people seek.
Walking across Scotland, just like bicycling across America, was a purposeful exercise in intentional motion. In both cases I could’ve hid on a beach somewhere, but I knew I’d relax more, and ponder more, with ever changing scenery. It also had the happy consequence of being able to wear the same thing every day without anyone seeing me wear the same outfit more than twice.
Four years later my assets are dramatically depleted, my income shrunk so low that I stopped paying my mortgage for months, and my consulting and writing business has now grown to the point that I can pay all of my bills. (Though there is the pesky notion of taxes, worn out shoes, and a long list of repairs.) And, there are many reasons for optimism.
I’ve been congratulated on something a friend called, the Trimbath Sanguinity, an attitude that remains positive amidst circumstances that others see as traumatic. They are perceptive both ways. In the midst of challenges that are far too common, it is tempting to stay in bed, hide under the sheets, and wonder how it will ever get better. That isn’t a metaphor. I know too many people who deal with that daily struggle. The upset economy provides no apparent hope for a sustainable life after income drops below a critical level. There is hope, but it is faced against far more numerous real time realities. And yet, I’m noted for concentrating on the optimism. As I’ve said before, if I landed in a swamp I’d spend less time complaining about being wet and more time trying to find dry land.
Scotland helped. Like so many others, I probably had those coping skills ingrained as a necessary part of a larger package of survival skills. Realizing that there is joy in every moment, is a lesson that Scotland, but more so travel, helped articulate.
On the grimmest of days I may bang my head on the desk like anyone. But, I also had that reminder that attitude and an appreciation of the moment was available for free. With practice, it doesn’t even take much time to recognize that I’m usually warm, dry, fed, safe, and able to exercise a significant amount of control over my life. News from the mortgage company may take days to recover from, but the recovery is far shorter when I sit back, look around, and see nature, hear from friends, and take some pride in my self.
Finding balance in life is a goal, but an impossible destination. Find a place that you think is stable, and the world will turn underneath it. Find a sanctuary within yourself that you can create, and nothing can reach it.
PS My next public event is November 9th, 2014 at the Freeland Library on Whidbey. I hope to see you there.