When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, up this cobbled lane
I’m walking in my old footsteps, once again
I’m walking around Oban, Scotland this week with headphones in, and tears flowing as I think of my Dad and Grandad. I promised them I would come here to our Clan MacDougall Gathering, and I’m here. I’ve got a playlist for my solo walks around this seaside village, and this song features prominently, as it does on all my playlists. It’s called Wating for My Real Life to Begin by Colin Hay, of Men at Work fame.
It’s been one of my favorite songs in an overarching way since my marriage ended seven years ago. Its themes of standing on shores waiting for clarity and waiting for your ship to come in deeply resonate with me. Plus there are dragons, so… bonus points.
The sea has always been a remarkable icon in my life and greatest epiphanies have come when walking or sitting on a beach or by a bay — but not sitting on the dock of a bay, that’s just cliche.
The song also reminds me of my Dad. As I approach the age he died, I look for signs of his illness manifesting in me and I work hard to remember things he said when he felt unwell before we knew what would eventually kill him. I’m naturally given to hyperbole so any new pain or malaise immediately means I’m sick — but in all fairness, I have Thrombocytopenia and the monthly blood tests I need to track my form of cancer that could progress to myelodysplastic syndrome, which is what my Dad had, mean that every month is another opportunity for a fresh freakout. Like I need opportunities when I have Google and WebMD.
The truth is, I’m mostly in control of if and how this progresses. I don’t smoke and don’t regularly drink alcohol, unless on holiday or out for a special occasion. I’ve never been a soda drinker and I mostly follow a doctor-prescribed ketogenic diet with fewer carbs, and more lean protein and good fats. I cut out processed foods, and sugar, and I opt for organic when possible and choose whatever presents less of a threat to my heart. I’m more active than I’ve been in a decade, although no one would accuse me of training for any kind of sportsball tournament. I’d like to say it’s my bum knees and ligaments prone to tear, but the truth is I fancy myself a princess and hate to be any kinds of hot, unless it’s due to hair and makeup. My former husband told me I didn’t sweat, I glistened. That right there was almost enough to stay married.
With this attention to self-care also comes a commitment to continuing to live my life, however. My personal philosophy is that it does no good in prolonging my life if it’s all drudgery. And so, I’m in Scotland. Eating the Sticky Toffee Pudding, walking cobblestone steps and staring at the water and listening to music that speaks to my soul.
My Dad didn’t make it here. But I’m here. I’m carrying his torch and his memory here. I’m thanking him for the lessons he gave me — both spoken and unspoken. I’m trying to honor him and his life in the obvious ways — taking better care of myself, but also in the not-so-obvious ways, by coming here to Oban and the Clan MacDougall Gathering, reaching back and learning about my ancestry, but also reaching forward and keeping their legacies alive with my daughters.
This week, with those realizations, it seems like my real life really has begun.