Flygskam, Home Conflict, and the Dougal Dilemma
Buckle up folks, it's a long and thoughtful one this month.
Typical! No newsletter for ages, then a barrage of thoughts arrive all at once.
For many weeks my thoughts have been a jumbled mess bouncing around in my head. Producing this newsletter for you helps me to get those thoughts down on paper (well, on a screen,) untangle them, and join them all back together again in a coherent way.
Constant evaluation is necessary before you can move forward to a life more streamlined; you have to work out what is actually going on before you can take the next step. For that reason, dear reader, I thank you for your support in opening this newsletter and reading it, and indulging me with a vehicle to present my thoughts.
Better out than in, as they say.
Flygskam and Home Conflict
Have you missed travelling?
As we get used to a new post-pandemic version of daily life, international travel is finally back on the menu, albeit a more clunky version than the kind we enjoyed beforehand.
For the first time in two years I have been able to visit my best friend and soul mate Shanna in her home town of Setúbal, Portugal. You’ll be pleased to know that there might be a video update or two in the pipeline to let you know how she is getting on. In the meantime, check out Shanna’s newsletter Life: Examined by clicking here.
As well as an opportunity to goof about with my Twin, the break has also given me the time to think. These thoughts have ultimately ended with feelings of guilt and conflict.
Flygskam - Flight Shame
Much as I would love to have travelled to Lisbon and back by train, the price of doing so, not to mention the time it would have taken, doesn’t really cut it when you consider the cost and convenience of flying.
As we all know, flying is one of the most damaging single activities we can do as regards the environment. My trip to Portugal - to see a close friend I had not seen for two years - has been racked with guilt. Were I oblivious to the environmental impact of flying, or if I just didn’t care, I would have had a far better time. Sure, I have consoled myself with the statistic that were I to eat a hamburger twice a week for a year, it would generate a similar amount of carbon emissions to those of my plane journey. However, eating a plant-based diet does not give us Carte Blanche to jump on a plane where better options exist.
That said, it’s not always a simple story of Ferry good, Aeroplane bad. In this article in the Shetland News, it’s been discovered that flying between Shetland and mainland has a lower carbon footprint than taking the ferry - and that’s before you drive a car on board.
Cianalas and Home Conflict
A funny thing happened on my return trip from Portugal. As the plane wheels hit the tarmac at Benbecula Airport, I immediately felt grounded. It’s hard to explain, but it was as if I were an electrical device that had been returned to its charging station. My whole body subconsciously relaxed even though the plane was still bumping down the runway. I was finally HOME.
I’d been in Portugal for just two days before the homesickness kicked in. Ironically, just before I left, an episode of Speak Gaelic was broadcast on BBC Alba, and in that episode I talk about my favourite Gaelic word, Cianalas. Cianalas is not easily translated into English, but it describes an intense, deep feeling of homesickness.
I still cannot logically explain why I feel so at home in Uist.
However, my moving here throws up yet more conflict. This time, the conflict derives from the fact that I moved to a new community and bought a modest house. Some folks see that as evil - allegedly denying a local person access to a house and pushing up property prices by increasing demand.
Green Lairds and Scottish Land Grabs
Negative perceptions of incomers are exacerbated by the land-grabs that continue in Scotland to this day. Just 432 individuals own 50% of Scotland’s privately held land according to the article linked below. Adding to the pressure on land values is the new generation of Green Lairds - corporations that are buying up swathes of Scotland so they can easily and cheaply offset their carbon emissions rather than look at better - and more expensive - ways of reducing their carbon footprint at source.
Read more about the subject here:
Fortunately, the good people of Scotland are intelligent enough to differentiate between an individual who wants to be a part of the community, and a huge corporation that wants to find a cheap and easy way to satisfy its environmental responsibilities so it can carry on making fat profits for its shareholders. But it’s easy to understand why the subject is such a sore and sensitive one.
However, just like the Plane vs Ferry argument, it’s not quite as clear cut.
For starters, if we take a step back for a moment, to ban incomers from making the islands their permanent place of residence is to deny people like me the opportunity to be truly at home. Sure, the South East of England is the place where I grew up and it has a lot going for it, but it never truly felt like home to me.
An Accident of Geography
The location of your birth and upbringing is an accident of geography. Feeling connected to a place and actually CHOOSING to live there - doesn’t that count? Is there not an argument that proactive adult choice is a valid a reason to live somewhere? I’m not talking economics, either. Nobody moves to the Western Isles to make money. Or if they do, they are seriously deluded. The riches to be had here are definitely not of the financial kind.
I’m talking here about actually living somewhere, contributing to the local community in all the ways, and being present. I am not talking about second homes and holiday homes in a country where too many people don’t even have a first home.
My moving here is a bit like the Family vs Friends argument. You could have a friend to whom you are very close, chat with every day, and love to bits (hello, Shanna!) Such close friendship is, however, rarely officially recognised, and you’d not get time off work if anything happened to them. But if your estranged sister you cannot stand and have not spoken to in 20 years suddenly passes away, you’d have all kinds of rights to take time off and mourn. Family vs Friends is hard to quantify and is not a binary argument, and neither is Accidental Geography vs Proactive Choice when it comes to home.
Immigrant, not ex-pat
I will always be an immigrant in the place that I call home. While the island communities desperately need people to live and work here (as I do,) my feelings of happiness and being grounded will always be clouded with a tinge of guilt.
Shanna also wrote about Home in her newsletter Life: Examined, and one of the many things that Shanna and I have in common is that we are both accustomed to the feeling of not quite fitting in. We didn’t fit in to the lives we had in the places that we grew up, so to be living in a place that truly fits, and brings us so much joy and sense of belonging more than compensates for the guilty feelings of being a privileged immigrant.
The Dougal Dilemma
Anyone who knows me knows that my life revolves around my faithful dog, Dougal. During my half-century on this planet, Dougal is without shadow of a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. I do my best to love him as unconditionally as he loves me.
As I reported in the previous edition of Streamlining, Dougal did not enjoy our long trip to Germany. The constant travel and switching vehicles took its toll on his anxiety levels. As Dougal enters his golden years, he has developed a heart condition.
At home in Uist, we are both lucky enough to have amazing friends, and feel very much at home in their company. My dilemma is that I have to balance Dougal’s separation anxiety with his travel anxiety. I have decided, therefore, that for any trip that is long in distance or short in duration, it’s best for him to stay with his doggy pals at home.
Combine the environmental arguments, my new-to-me feelings of Home, the gut-wrenching cianalas, and the fact that any travel involving Dougal needs to be as gentle and as stress-free as possible, and it’s clear to see that our lives are set to change yet again.
My heart only truly sings when I am in Scotland. I hate leaving my home country. I only feel complete when Dougal is at my side. I still love to travel.
While we should never say never, I do think that the days of long trips are slowly fading into my past. The future, I believe, is looking quite different. I really hope that you, my dear and valued reader, will be staying us for the journey - however that might look.
In case you missed it, over the summer I quietly posted a Substack article detailing the camera equipment I use - and the stuff that I don’t use - to make my videos. For those of you interested in the production side of my vlogs, you can read the article by clicking here. I have just updated this page with my experience of the DJI Pocket 2, and the Rode Wireless Go 2.
This segues nicely into my current favourite YouTube channel, which is aimed squarely at vlog making and film making.
What I like most about Tamara Gabriel’s videos is her cool, calm, and classy style. There is no corny fake excitement or forced animation, just clear, concise advice and reviews delivered in a respectful and professional way. She narrates beautifully. Her excellent videos don’t get nearly enough views for the amount of work that she clearly puts into them, but I applaud her decision to remain true to a high standard of professionalism, rather than try and chase a high volume of views by using crass and cheap sensationalist tactics. If you like quality reviews of consumer video equipment and film-making tutorials, please do check out her channel.
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