Without doubt, sometimes modern life sucks! Fake news. Fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD), as we strive to navigate our way through "The Age of Stupid". We're all steeped in and exposed to these swampy quagmires, that at every opportunity, seek to pull us down. Misery truly does like company. So here, like the warmth from a turf fire in winter, we have a remedy.
For writers, thinkers, ponderers, brooders, web heads, and absolutely anyone who yearns for time and space to think, to plan, to ponder, to conspire, to drip carefully chosen words for their next page-turner drop-by-drop onto the page, or for no particular reason whatsoever, sometimes, a suitable bolthole helps open up creative, emotional floodgates.
So, for a few minutes more, why not join me on an imaginary journey and spirit yourself away to some bolthole somewhere?
How about the Highlands of Scotland?
Prepare to discover ancient mayhem and mystery, mashed and lashed through the mists of time, to meet a modern-day friendliness and openness that can be unmatched.
Work First, Then Play
While for us, meaningful work always comes first, we can still balance our graft with a little play.
We can hit the pause button: close the laptop lid for a while.
- As you drive down coming off the spine of the mountains, in the Highlands of Glen Shiel, you pass the Five Sisters of Kintail, before then you can spot the graceful curve of the Skye bridge.
- "Ceud Mìle Fàilte" ("A Hundred Thousand Welcomes" in Scottish Gaelic) - a traditional Skye welcome.
- The sun breaks through the clouds and wind gusts dance dappled light through Caledonian pine trees across the ever-changing vista.
- Once near home, we can stamp out a bracing stroll down to the loch side on a crispy morning, hoping that we're yet again enveloped in duck-egg blue skies that seem to stretch horizons beyond belief.
- We can taste the smell of woodsmoke drifting over the loch misting through the evergreens from the house over by.
- Say hello yet again to those grey seals dipping and diving near the shore.
- We'll marvel at those gravity-defying kestrels, red kites, and robot-eyed buzzards just before they swoop and pounce ... on dinner.
- We can spot wild deer rustling through the purple heather - but not soon enough: often, they're gone in the blink of an eye. For even a fleeting glimpse, we have to be downwind and well hidden of these majestic, nervy, antsy creatures.
- Who knows, one day, when you're out and about, if the gods are with you, on a wing and a prayer, you might spot a Skye Capercaillie or two, displaying those hilarious mating antics.
- And of course, we can assess anew those ever present sheep, imagining fleeces shorn, and transformed in skilful Hebridean hands, spun into thick, smile-inducing woolly jumpers.
- Or watch hungry redwings and robins feast on autumn-plump blood-red berries, filling up on the nutritious food before the hoarfrost bites.
- Or peering skyward through squinting eyes, we can't help but wonder if the soaring, sweeping lapwing really is singing "a eulogy to the wonder of it all"? We don't know, yet the notion is fascinating.
- Or we can enjoy glorious, sweeping sunsets that always seems to end too soon.
- Or howl at the moon - "Every wolf's and lion's howl / raises from hell a human soul", as William Blake reminds us.
- Or, as those long, lazy days of summer seem far behind us, and autumn leans in to winter, the northern half prepares to sleep in winter's grip, we can yet again, cosy up to a log fire, toasting toes with a memorable "cappuccino-to-die-for".
- It's a glorious May morning as you smoke Scottish wild salmon on an open fire. Sublime and unforgettable.
- Bask and reminisce in front of peat fires and wood-burning stoves, enjoy some fine conversation with family and friends, or stir up to pointless banter, that is anything but pointless, as all those around you, enrich your world beyond measure.
- Revel in a fine glass of red, or tease out a bracing Talisker whisky tipple as you count down the days to Yuletide in Scotland.
- "Slàinte Mhath!" ("Good Health" in Scottish Gaelic).
Such little magic moments make a lifetime enriched, and provide a bolthole "anti-fragile" antidote to political and economic nonsense, near and far.
For a possible bolthole location, the Isle of Skye or a croft home somewhere lost in the Highlands of Scotland, offers an enticing, seductive, temptation.
During summer's long yawn, yes, we have lots of sunny summer days that seem to last longer than they should. Maybe you thought you were dreaming; probably not.
Yet sometimes, here on Scotland's edge, nearer the start or end of the year, you can meet four seasons in a single day. And there are days when the wind howls and the rain torrents in bucketfuls. Thankfully, most homes built by local builders who truly understand what is needed, are usually sturdy, strong, robust.
A chance encounter and turn of events meant that we moved up here 17 years ago, from York, England. Our two kids grew up in a home on land that not so long ago was part of the sprawling MacDonald crofting estate.
Our next generation enjoyed the freedom, fresh air, safety: precious sentiments we simply accepted as normal, yet in later times, more wiser still, mum and dad realised they took for granted.
A few years ago, M and J were all grown up and of course, couldn't wait to get away. To find the bright lights and feel the throb of a different world.
Yet as opportunities allow, sometimes even flown-away birds still yearn to keep coming back home to Scotland and Skye. And again, why not?
Eilean a' Cheò seems to have a mysterious, irrepressible, intoxicating magic, that once infected, is hard to shift (and why would we?). There's a call and a plea to the wild from Skye stones and rocks almost as old as the world itself.
Sometimes, after time spent away, even the occasional swirling mists seem to beckon "Welcome back".
So of course: boltholes have their uses, and pleasant memories are like an itch that no amount of scratching seems to fix.
A Little Contemplation In The Eye Of The Storm
While the world scampers on, and central banks play roulette and musical chairs with world economies, we try to ignore the madness, while still staying engaged, ever present, ever mindful, and ever ready. For what ... we're not quite sure. But we'll know when it happens.
Nevertheless, even in crackpot times, when up is down, and down is up, there's still much to be grateful for. For me, gratitude is like a wonderful, simple cup of tea, best sipped slowly, fully mindful, and wide awake.
One thing seems sure: a place can change you.
Being marinated within an environment dominated by nature's whims, affects mood, moderates extremes, and helps remind us of what really matters.
And Yet ... Something New Is Stirring
While politicians plan and plot, react and reverberate, the world moves on anyway.
As the future does what it will, we can relish learning about "new bubbles" like:
- Blockchain (more from Wikipedia.org).
- Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Ether, (Ethereum), even ScotCoin (why not), and so on.
- Machine learning.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Web 3.0.
- And much more.
As for all newer, cutting-edge technologies: we have been here before ... countless times.
How so? Our human story has experienced many bubbles. In the spirit of fighting fake news, let's explore some home truths, a small sample of 6 "bubbles" from a long, glorious list that went on to change our entire world:
- The steam engine bubble: true inventor, Thomas Savery.
- The radio bubble: true inventor of radio, Nikola Tesla.
- The telephone bubble: true inventor, Alexander Graham Bell.
- The television bubble: true inventor, Boris Rosing.
- The automobile bubble: true inventor, Karl Benz.
- The powered flight bubble: true inventor, Richard Pearse.
There are countless wins that stretch back through jagged times.
Many remarkable, technological, world-changing, advances were bubbles and "frauds" at the start, dismayed and criticised by top "global experts". How wrong they were, still are today, and will continue to be so in the future.
Quiet Please: Blockchain Rebuilding Is In Progress
A new, younger, gentler, tech-savvy generation is now pulling us all forward.
Blockchain looks like it's going to quietly break the world, then put it back together - differently. Maybe better. Maybe not. We'll find out for sure.
However we can but hope that the transition to a better decentralised tomorrow appears seamless to most people.
Even so, we think there is turbulence ahead, so we fasten our seatbelts, build up reserves, and recommend you do too.
The genie is out of the bottle, and isn't going back in anytime soon.
That's why a bolthole enriched with simpler living can offer a saner approach to modern life, to help recharge, rekindle, regroup.
Your Turn: Creating A Little Sanity, Anywhere, Anytime
Skye is our bolthole.
We hope you can find yours too!
Though if not, don't despair:
- Perhaps what we can envisage in "our mind's eye" is far more important, and always has been.
- For the human mind creates instantly.
- At any time and anywhere, we can forge our own unique mental bolthole.
- We can close our eyes and let imagination soar. Do it. Do it now. Are you there yet?
If you're still with me, and not yet already drifting off into your own fantasy world creation, for now, why not enjoy some musical celebrations from two world renowned groups sourced from the Scottish Highlands?
Skye Celtic Rock Band: Runrig, Singing "Maymorning" (from the "Party on the Moor" DVD)
A fun, energy-packed music track to help you feel more alive.
Celtic Folk Band From Argyll: Capercaillie, singing "At The Heart Of It All"
Winding down now. A thoughtful, beautifully choreographed soundtrack. Time to chill, relax with Capercaillie.