Scotland

(This post is published long after its original writing. I found it among some drafts and realized that even though my thoughts weren’t complete, it deserved publication. Perhaps I’ll elaborate another time.)

I spent the Easter “holy day” alone. I’m about three-quarters through a major back-yard project to install a vegetable garden. At this point, my financial investment in the project is driving my efforts; I need to reap the fruits of my labor – literally.

It was a very good weekend without friends, family, or other distractions; just physical – and a little mental – labor. I may have even lost a few pounds around my waist and shifted them to my arms and legs. Muscle = good.

I also had an opportunity to work with a jack hammer. The thing was very heavy, so much so I couldn’t lift it into my pick-up truck. But once I started working with it, it was’t so bad. I rented the thing to break up a thick slab of concrete that had been buried under another concrete slab. I hired a man to take out that top slab and another one alongside that, but he asked for more cash when the slab underneath became apparent, and I wasn’t willing to fork over any more cash. So, hammer time!

The work wasn’t too bad: hammer, load concrete chunks into wheelbarrow, haul concrete chunks to pick-up truck, repeat. At the end of the day, I had a concrete-free hole in the ground, a truckload of concrete bits, and a feeling of accomplishment. Mostly, it felt good to be outside on a pleasant day and working my muscles to exhaustion. I slept well, and started the next day with a trip to the dump to unload the concrete: a pleasant drive and a little more exercise.

I’ve omitted the Saturday spent cutting and hauling wood. There’s a pile of that refuse inthe front yard right now waiting for the city to pick it up as yard waste.

Why I’ve titled this “Scotland” is that it reminds me of the months I spent there without any distractions other than work – which was a strictly 8-5 affair with precious little overtime. I spent most of my free time walking the streets of various Scottish cities, moors, highlands, mountains, and ruins. It allowed me a lot of time to think without the usual distractions that so many of us must face: family, work, church (not a problem for me), friends. Most of the time, I think, we allow ourselves to be driven by the priorities of others, by the opportunity presented by another person, or group, and lose sight of our own goals. For me, Scotland is forever linked to my own personal reckoning with my personal happiness versus the happiness of people around me. Once I was able to achieve significant physical distance between myself and others, I was also able to achieve the emotional distance necessary to establish my own independent identity, something I had taken for granted before that time, but found I lacked upon introspective examination.

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