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Scotland Is a State of Mind

My response to this week’s Random Moment of Delight, a blogging challenge by FireBonnet, was inspired by two occasions. One of them was me casually browsing my WordPress Reader, looking for and finding new blogs by searching my favourite tag “Scotland”. Another occasion was when I saw a fellow blogger’s response to this challenge: it was Justine over at Eclectic Odds ’n’ Sods, who wrote about her native home. I decided to combine “Scotland” and “home”, which happens to be a pertinent combination in my case, and what results below are the most personal lines I have yet published.

As I have already mentioned here and there, I have little affection for my home country, but I feel an intimate connection with Scotland. I’m a rational person who doesn’t believe that people native to one land could be transplanted by the workings of evil magic to another land across the sea. It puzzles me that I feel exiled in what is by birth and residence my home, while I enliven at a mere mention of Scotland and think of myself as an honorary Scotswoman. Without meaning to write a ghost story, I’d like to trace back and reflect on my three short stays in what is my promised land.

I was first sent to Scotland neither on nor against my wish for a three-week English Literature summer school. As the plane was descending to the Edinburgh Airport, I liked the way the ocean secured the land from the rest of the world. After exiting the airport building, I froze on the spot for a split of second as I breathed in the cool, fresh air. I have never been in such proximity of cold seas before, and the air felt not just refreshing but shockingly energising. I did no prior research on what Edinburgh looks like, and now I was staring breathlessly as grey granite buildings punctuated by starkly green areas started passing behind the cab window. It was like the right state of things; it felt like a homecoming.

I came home when I came to Scotland the second and third times, on my much coveted wish. The rebirth-like impression after landing in Edinburgh was not as overwhelming as the first time, but I retained the stimulating feeling throughout my entire stay. It drove me to activity and creativity. There’s a saying “Scotland is a state of mind.” Indeed, Scotland is the state of my mind. It is ambivalent in the first place: it is where the prevalent grey clashes with shocking patches of colour. It is a site of self-depreciation and pride, of tragedy and humour, of history and progress. Scotland is like me. I am like Scotland.

49 thoughts on “Scotland Is a State of Mind

  1. Phew, you know firstly thank you for the re-blog ❤ and secondly wow you soooo so so need to be in Scotland I am feeling this intense need to bring you over there on a plane. Those pics are wonderful, especially the one looking up towards the castle 🙂 Your description of Scotland v yourself is very poignant/apt hah, I mean that in a good way, huggles xxx

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    1. You’re welcome, especially welcome to inspire me any time 🙂 Your post about your home was really very touching to me…

      Glad that you enjoyed my pics, and don’t worry about the text too much, I didn’t mean to be melodramatic or attention-seeking, I just thought I’d experiment with writing something personal this time…

      Hugs back at you 🙂

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          1. well they said…..drum roll….

            meow meeeeow meoooow mow mow

            I didn’t pass my cat language degree yet, but maybe you have?

            I do know however that Teddy and Splodge said they would be on the deal also if it happened :-p

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Oh, you don’t speak Catspeak? Never mind… But you say the two doggies would join too?! Well, now I’m not sure if I could handle the four of them!! How do you even do it? 😉

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  2. And you just know the right thing to write about at the right time. Part of my family is from Scotland and it’s one of my favorite places to think about and look at. Thank you for the article.

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    1. Oh, that’s great! Both that you have family from Scotland and that it happened so that my post met you in the right mood 🙂 I was very self-conscious about this post because I don’t normally write anything so intimate, so I’m happy about your positive feedback!

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  3. Haha this is great, I suppose everyone has their promise land. Mine is japan for sure, even though I’m Originally Scottish by blood 🙂

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    1. Thank you your comment, Daniel, and sorry that it ended up in the spam for reasons unknown 😦 Your promised land is Japan? That sounds reasonable to me, I surely find Japan fascinating. Even if I doubt that I could be able to assimilate with a culture so different and so unfamiliar to me. It’s funny though that we’re all somewhere else than where we’d like to be…

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      1. True, Japan would be hard but I grew up there so it’s a little different for me 🙂 I’ve been gone for almost 10 years now though, crazy!

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        1. You grew up in Japan and you are Scottish? Now, that’s very interesting 🙂 In that case you can return to live in Japan any time, right? I mean, I know that it’s not that easy, but it’s easier when you’ve lived there already. I’ll need to explore more of your Japan posts on your blog 😉

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  4. Your post made me feel quite homesick – which is not necessarily a bad thing. I have so many wonderful memories of Edinburgh in particular, from childhood memories of visiting my Gran in Leith and exploring the city, sitting in graveyards eating fish and chips, the smell of hot vinegar just about masking the smell of hops from the breweries, living there as a University student, meeting and marrying my husband there, teaching there, catching shows at the Festival, avoiding tourists like the plague during the Festival, lazing in Princes Street Gardens or the Meadows on hot sunny days, climbing Arthur’s Seat, taking in the views from the Salisbury Crags and Calton Hill. So your blog was very evocative for me and made lots of wonderful memories rush into my mind, happy memories. It is hard to be an exile from a country I love so much and to have become part of the massive Scottish diaspora but, just as you write you will always have an affinity for Scotland, I feel confident that I will always be completely and utterly Scottish to the core of my identity. Maybe a bit of Scotland, therefore, is wherever I am too.

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    1. I was thinking of you when writing this post, knowing you to be an actual exile. Thank you for reading and thank for sharing your lovely memories of Edinburgh, it’s quite moving… Maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive today, but reading your comment made me almost tearful.

      Of course that there’s a piece of Scotland wherever you go, it can’t be otherwise! You won’t cease to be Scottish simply by moving elsewhere. Wishing you all the best in PA, and long live Scotland 🙂

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      1. Ha! I think I am being sensitive and overly-emotional today too. It’s the sleep-deprivation that does it. Days like these my bladder is too near my eye.

        You are lucky you picked Edinburgh though. Had your photos been of Aberdeen, I would have had to share memories of freezing to death on the beach and my Dad scaring me with stories of white slavers kidnapping people from the shoreline, of swimming amid a raging torrent of slippery eels in either the Dee or the Don, of being terrorised by peacocks and chickens who apparently needed my packed lunch more than I did, of being licked by a donkey, of never seeing the sunshine there, and (worst of all) going to the worst ever circus ever in the history of circuses which has meant my children can never experience a circus unless I decide to suck it up and heavily medicate myself and which has also given me a deep-seated phobia of clowns.

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        1. Oh dear!! Really? Your dad’s memories of Aberdeen are not fit for anyone to hear (unless they’re in a morbid mood), least of all for a child! I feel for you. Now I won’t look at a circus ever the same again! As to the eels, peacocks, donkeys and other beasts, I was always afraid of animals anyway… Now you only confirmed my worst fears! Let’s not think about it, though, shall we? 🙂

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          1. I think my Dad was passing on his own childhood trauma. I suspect he was told that story as a wee boy to keep him away from the beach and the possibility of fun times. The lack of an internal edit runs in our DNA so he just chatted away about people being abducted and sold into slavery as we tried to build a sand castle and skim stones. My kids have to endure much the same stuff from me now.

            So I shouldn’t tell you about the time I was in Ettrick and got beaten up by a flock of sheep then? I had hoof shaped bruises on my legs for over a week. They wanted my crisps (potato chips). True story. My Dad took photos of it … instead of rescuing me … Ha ha!

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          2. What?! You got attacked by sheep because of crisps?? Well, but we know that the Ettrick forest is haunted, so it doesn’t surprise me after all… It is however somewhat alarming that your dad undertook to document your trauma rather then rescue his own child in distress. Your family sounds like a funny bunch 🙂 Please be careful and don’t frighten each other (too much)!

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          3. My parents are visiting this summer so they and their peculiarities will no doubt feature on my blog. Yes, Scottish sheep are the great white sharks of the glens.

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          4. Now you gave me one more reason to be looking forward to summer! I love reading about eccentricities and peculiarities! Beware of sharks — and sheep.

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  5. I am honored that you chose my challenge to write something so personal. I think it is wonderful that you have found your heart home! Even if you don’t live there at the moment… as you say it is a state of mind. I’ve been to Edinburgh once and all I remember is grey and green, I never saw anything like the colorful set of buildings you shot! 😉 I hope you are able to return often for more recharging and energizing!

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    1. Thank you for coming over to read my uncharacteristically personal post, I feared it would be too boring to read, with no fun in it… It’s me who’s honoured to be part of your challenge, it still remains the best one I’ve come across.

      It’s funny about the grey and green in Edinburgh, so you find this striking too? I suspect natives are not too happy with the (lack of) colours, but I’m impressed by it. The relatively colourful houses are one of the oldest in the city and are right in the city centre, visible from the Princes Street (the main street). They are very atypical 🙂

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  6. Can you deal with the Scottish accent? I heard the people there are pretty hard to understand.
    And the pictures you took would make anybody want to jump on a plane and head to Scotland; they are mind-blowing,and I really mean the word.
    I like how the green stand out…it makes everything look very fresh!

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    1. I find the American accent hard to understand. Scottish? No problem! I even have some limited understanding of Scots (similar to English, but a different language, not much spoken any more). I’m glad that you enjoy my pictures! I took all them years ago, so I’m happy that they stand the test of time 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! Scotland is awesome, I recommend visiting if you have the chance! I don’t guarantee that you’ll fall in love with the place as much as I did, but I’m sure you’d love it. What’s there not to love 😉 !

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  7. As an exiled Scot (although I am only in Derbyshire) this certainly stirred something, although I don’t have much positive to say about my first 11 years spent in deepest, darkest Glasgow, the next 7 years in and around Stirling were a bit special 😀 Thanks for that! 😀

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    1. Thank you stopping by, and hope the memories that my post stirred were mostly pleasant 😉 Stirling sounds very nice; though you made me curious about “deepest, darkest Glasgow” too!

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      1. As a 10 year old in Glasgow I watched a friend of about 8 have a milk bottle smashed around his head by some lads simply because he got caught on their part of the street, although we had the curiosity to go out and explore the city it was not best advised to do so :-/ ..Stirling and Cowie (a village 5 miles out of town) was a whole different experience though and one which quenched my thirst for knowledge 😀

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        1. Oh dear, what a scary experience! I was thinking Glasgow is no more this dangerous… Did you study in Stirling, when you say it quenched your thirst for knowledge? I’ve only been to Stirling for a day, and it looked like a lovely place. Very much like my own university town, except lovelier 😉

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          1. I lived around Stirling from age 11 until age 18, this is where I believe I grew into the me I became.. After that it was just fine tuning, I went to high school in Stirling, but my University was in Nottingham 😀

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          2. You should, it is a beautiful town with so much history, the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the Battle of Bannockburn, the Wallace monument, the King Robert the Bruce monument, Stirling Castle …… and others 😀 …. I have only just begun blogging today, so am very new to this and don’t want to appear cheeky, but if you know anyone who likes simple, uncomplicated, heartfelt poetry could you nudge them in my direction please? I am trying to get reviews and suggestions for improvement 😀 Thank you

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          3. Wow! You just started today? But you’ve got a lot of content already! Actually, I don’t have connections with poet-bloggers, it’s not my niche really, but: besides searching the tag “poetry” or the like in your Reader, do come to the Community Pool on Sunday — it’s a weekly support forum held by WordPress on The Daily Post. I’ve got a lot of advice by fellow bloggers there! As far as I can tell, though, your blog in on the right way! It’s a bit too picture-less for my taste, but I guess you deliberately focus on your content and don’t want to distract your readers… So happy blogging, enjoy!

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  8. As a twice exiled Scot, once in London, now in Adelaide, I loved this piece and how you have been captivated by my home country. It makes me love it more. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and reading! I’m glad to have inspired you to more pride for your home country. You certainly have much to be proud of!

      Living in Australia doesn’t look too bad either, though, I’ve seen and enjoyed your Instagram photos a lot 🙂

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