It wasn’t until the end of my trip when I was asked if I had a little Scottish heritage in me. The question came from a driver who was taking us from where we dropped off our car rental to our hotel for the evening. The way he said it sounded as if he asked any tourist that he was in a car with the same question. I am sure he got an answer from many of those people that was the same as my answer, “Yes, I got a little bit of Scottish in me.”
Scotland is one of those countries that becomes a pilgrimage for many people because it tugs on something from within. They can hear the allure of hazy skies, whiskey tastings, history, kilts, highland games, and the occasional fish and chips. It promotes a lifestyle that they have only heard of in the books they have read as children or the stories told to them by an elder generation. They are curious about whether or not they can find a home in a land that was a home to their kin for so long.
Despite the rugged landscape, and the various castles, there is a sense of home that comes with traveling to Scotland. No matter where I went, I was greeted with a warm smile, and a friendly ear. Community was everywhere I looked. People would put down their phones to meet each other at the pub, or spend a day exploring the vast landscape that was offered. It is hard to come out to Scotland, and not fall in love with the land, the history and the people. For that reason, it feels like home.
The history of Scotland is one of rebellion, and national pride. It tells tales of victory, and defeat and how the land and the people were shaped by these moments. It boasts heroes whose exploits have been slightly altered to share national pride in other nations, so they can believe in the same fights that the Scots have fought for generations. It brings together nations under one banner while keeping its unique flavor for who they are and what they believe in. The history of Scotland is a fascinating one, and wherever I went in the country, I would run into a reminder of how rich and powerful that history was.
Scotland does not just offer the world a rich history and wonderful story to tell. It is also one of the hearts for intellectual thought in the world. Many great writers and philosophers have called Scotland, or more specifically Edinburgh, their home. Names such as David Hume, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, and J. K. Rowling all have connections to this great city, and many people from across the globe have been affected by their works in some capacity at some point in their lives.
Scotland’s impact on the world does not only stop at philosophy and literature, but extends into the sciences as well. There were great medical discoveries that came from Scotland including the discovery of the first anesthesia, chloroform. They were also the ones who cloned the first animal, Dolly the sheep. Their contributions to medicine has influenced the common practices so much that we would still be in the dark ages without them.
Scotland may be a small island off in the distance to so many people that they would never consider it a part of their lives, but if they look closer, there is a part of their lives that have been touched by the Scottish. In a way, when that man asked visiting guests whether I had any Scottish heritage, their answer should all be the same. Their is a little bit of the Scottish heritage in all of us. We may not be able to claim a clan as our own, but we can talk about how their history and culture has affected us in some capacity.
I am really glad that I was able to take the trip out to Scotland. It is a beautiful country, and I felt instantly at home in it. I suspect that this would be true for anybody that travels there. It should not be a must see destination for the ones who have a tartan hanging in their closets and they want to see the land where it comes from; rather, it should be for anyone who has ever been enthralled by its literature, learned a lesson from its history, or been saved by its contributions to science. It is everybody’s home.
I hope that someday, you can take the trip to Scotland and have the same kind of experience that I did. It is really worth the pilgramage.