There are moments in life for a little bit of 'crazy'. For 71/2 hours of travel to see a movie with a friend. Because she is leaving for the highlands after lunch and the movie times in Edinburgh are awkward, making the logistics too complicated to get our heads around, and we've waited long enough to see the film and don't want to wait any longer. So it seems simpler to drive north with her in the morning, see the film in Inverness, and get the train back south while she drives on to stay with friends for the week.
The drive gave friends who live in different towns time to chat, to sing songs, remember the bands of our youth, share stories. It gave this PhD student on a well-earned break a change of scenery, the sense of movement, a drive and a train ride will provide.
The timing hadn't quite worked out, to take this week off when my sister is here later in the month, so I'll be working in between our adventures to Paris and around Edinburgh. But this week I needed the days at home doing nothing much at all, some brunches and lunches and catch-ups with friends in Edinburgh, and this one day out of the city, travelling, breathing in the highlands, the heart of Scotland. I needed to get out of my head, interrupt the cycle of circular thinking about what will I do once the PhD is done; about whether to choose safety, security, full time work, to opt for home or stay where I am or move somewhere new again, do I go back, go forward, or stay. Do I keep to the calling, the itinerant vocation, find part time and spend the spare time consulting, writing, performing... ?
I had planned, the day before, to write a job application, but didn't. So I planned for the train ride to write the job application. But a couple of hours in, now writing this blog post, I still hadn't got any further. Because the day before, instead of doing what I planned, I found space to return to the stories I had wanted to tell when I moved from Australia to Scotland. I've sent two different versions to two different publishers, but it's still not on anyone's list.
I had seen a tweet asking for stories of 'failed' fresh expression endeavours, and remembered the book lying figuratively in a drawer somewhere. I pulled it out and read it again, tweaking, starting to add the story of this latest season, and revising the structure. I will print it and polish the writing now, for after all the writing for the thesis, I think I have improved. And I will try another publisher.
As I read the story again, this memoir of a 'pioneer' emerging into my own expression of pioneer ministry, I was reminded of the conviction I have known for this vocation. That conviction that brought me to Scotland. That conviction that kept me here, determined what ways I would and would not earn money, for I refused to take steps away from the path I had set. I did not take time from the storytelling and poetry, though I may have earned more money by tying myself to one place. I knew I needed to be free to travel, an itinerant, wandering bard in the land of my ancestors. For this was why I came here.
It was hard most of the time. Family and friends didn't always understand, wanted to keep me safe. But the spark within, which I took the first decade of my adult life to identify what it was, would not be extinguished. It insisted on guiding the way, and who was I to refuse?
Who am I to refuse now, though I may be tired from this journey, exhausted from the challenges. If I claim commitment to nurturing the fulness of our being, humans together, then how can I deny my own?
She didn't know what drove her, but young Diana felt the spark ignited within. She pursued it, obeyed it, followed its light on a path in opposition to her mother's command, made in the hope of keeping Diana safe.
She could not refuse the call from within, pulling her to be her fullest self, for her wellbeing and that of the world. Diana - Wonder Woman, the movie we saw in Inverness - left all behind in order to be true to herself. 'Who will I be if I stay?' she asked her mother. Who indeed. Not who she is destined to be.
Who will I be, if I choose the safe road, the stable job? Who will I be? Where must I go next, is the question I face, where to go, in order to continue to be true to who I am?