And just like that, I’m back.
I’ve been home in Wisconsin for just over a week now, and the three weeks before my return – those I spent rambling in Scotland – are a pulsing bunch of glittering images and glowing memories. How fast the past recedes from the present.
I’ve now had the opportunity to go on several, long solo trips as well as trips with Sarah and my dad since the inception of Traveling Savage. Along the way I scribble in a Moleskine, write on a private poetry site, and punch insights into my iPhone.
I also write here, of course.
I’m after those startling thoughts that lay hidden deep beneath the gray matter like veins of precious metal. We all have important things to dig up, stare at, and share. Unfortunately, most of “normal” life is subsumed in a state of numbness, that gray matter continuously agitated by surface distraction: familiar routines, television, the internet, ads, ads, ads. Those precious metals can only be imagined.
“Normal” life disappears on that first gust of wind in a new country and with it goes that body sleeve of numb malaise. There are no routines to fall back on, no familiar surroundings to guide the prehistoric mind to safety. Instead, there is the freshness of the unknown. The foreign works of stonemasons and linguists, architects and authors, and musicians and engineers penetrate right to my unarmored and shaking core. I’ve found solo travel increases this feeling by orders of magnitude.
The mental experience is a panic of fear, anxiety, awe, and wonder. This is the place where the veins are breached. Creativity lies naked in the panic.
I think creativity is scary to some part of the brain. It takes so much work to find the real creative spark – not the pastiche of ideas seeded in the shallow gray matter by the constant swirl of media – during “normal” life. Some days I simply can’t find it. I just don’t have the attention to hold the world at bay.
Traveling alone through distant, often desolate, lands has cemented in my memory that constellation of feelings so conducive to creativity. I’m thankful for that, especially since I’m working on a book. As painful and alien and tenuous as that memory is, I’ll need to cultivate it to accomplish what I’ve set out to do.
Plans & Happenings
I hope you enjoyed the photos of the day and notes I posted on Facebook during my trip. The trip was a great success and it was good having a lot of quality father-son time with my dad. I’ve got loads of posts to write in the coming months, including spotlights on distilleries, excellent accommodations, ancient history, and some good days out. Expect the same high quality writing about Scotland you’ve come to know on Traveling Savage.
My upcoming trips are all for personal reasons, including a weekend in Montreal for a Radiohead concert, a week in San Francisco for my brother’s wedding, and potentially a weekend in Spokane in September for another wedding.
Yes, I’m working on a book. It will be fiction but with a healthy dose of Scotland. I don’t want to say much more about it, kind of like how you don’t announce a baby until you finish the first trimester (maybe I shouldn’t use pregnancy analogies – I know nothing about the topic).
Creative types often say they can’t turn on the creativity. Is that just an excuse, or is that code for something true? Where is your creative space? How do you get there?