‘Because I’m Dutch’

I could not possibly let the last weekend pass without commenting on the final Formula One race of the season. Such excitement! Such drama! And for me, a very satisfying outcome. I had seen Nico Rosberg’s father win the World Championship thirty-four years ago (Keke was always a favourite with me because he drove with spirit) and had hoped for a long time that Nico would achieve his own version.

Nico would probably be the first to concede that he is not as ‘good’ a driver as Lewis Hamilton, but what he has discovered over the years is that there is more to life than winning. After all the near misses and ‘also ran’s he has had to suffer, this year he found a way to drive with truth. He learnt to perform  according to his own strengths, abilities and criteria, instead of those propagated by the media, the fans, the sponsors or even some of the drivers. He finally found himself.

The beautiful result was what has been described as a Zen-like approach to all the races this year. Keeping his emotions private, and focusing only on each individual weekend instead of the whole championship, he has obviously found real enjoyment in driving this season, experiencing several sessions of ‘being in the zone’ along the way – which seems to have surprised and thrilled him as much as it has the spectators.

When asked about the pressure he was facing in challenging Lewis for the last race win, and how he would detach himself from the situation, he responded by asking why he would want to do that. ‘I consider it a privilege to be in this position,’ he said. To me, that speaks of someone who has found peace with himself – whatever the outcome – because he knows who he is and can guarantee he’ll be able to perform at his highest level.

Contrast that with the desperation of Lewis. For all his brilliance, I often find him hard to watch, because winning – for him – is all-consuming. I was not a fan of his tactics on Sunday in trying to make things go badly for Nico. To me, it felt dishonest and unsportsmanlike, for all that it created a superb race. I never liked such shenanigans when other ‘brilliant’ drivers executed similar dubious strategies – Schumacher, Senna, Alonso … to name a few.

Looking back over the year, I am reminded of the Aesop fable of the tortoise and the hare: Lewis going at it hell-for-leather just because he can, then resting on his laurels because he knows how brilliant he is, then sulking when things haven’t gone his way and finally having to resort to unnatural driving  in a vain attempt to force the outcome he so desires – versus Nico, working consistently at improving what he has, recognising both his limits and his abilities, learning to drive with authenticity and maturity, and consequently enjoying every moment and therefore winning the ultimate prize.

I have the feeling that, although losing the championship would have been devastating for Nico, he would have discovered enough about himself during the process to feel immensely proud and to find a way to re-balance. I wonder if the same will be true for Lewis.

This is a journey I have been on myself. Discovering how to be centered and ‘in the moment’ whatever the circumstances, relishing every experience and honouring all the emotions involved. It is this process that has enabled me to complete a novel, regardless of whether it is a ‘success’, and that has given me the stability I need to face the complexities of getting it published, when confusion and defeat are sitting just around every corner.

How come it’s taken me so long ….?

In amongst the ‘ranks’ of F1 drivers, a youngster shows us all how it’s done. Driving from the essence of his soul, with unbelievable talent, natural grace and astonishing maturity, owning his mistakes as well as his achievements, commanding his way around the track with an elegance akin to walking on water – did you see Brazil?! – when Verstappen was asked how he managed to overtake so brilliantly in all that rain and with zero visibility, he merely referred the questioner to his now well-known phrase: ‘It’s because I’m Dutch’!

Over The Sea …

So the idea was to write a pre-holiday blog, talking about the delights awaiting me on Skye, where I was planning to do some essential research for the book, not having visited the island in six years. Then to follow this up with a number of blogs – perhaps every two or three days, during my two-week stay – writing about my adventures and the beauty of the island, with maybe a photograph or two (if I could get the camera to work).

Well, that was the plan. But I found myself so caught up in the energy of the place and the awesomeness of being there – finally – that all the usual home-bound desires and disciplines were somehow rendered irrelevant. (And I couldn’t get the camera to work.)

The remoteness of the village where I was staying, dominated by one of the biggest, and most dramatic, mountains on the island, seems to change your priorities when you’re not looking, and suddenly you find yourself living a different, more powerful and connected way of life – doing less and being more.

This is the village where my detective lives. One of the first walks my dog and I did was a stroll down the road to the plot of land where I’ve placed her lovely home, designed by her gentle and creative partner for them both, as a dream start to a new life … and I understood in a new and deeper way, the dilemma she struggles with daily, between her love of the work she excels at and her passion for the secluded life she’s chosen.

I found myself torn – as ever – between the exquisite quality of being present on the island and the fabulous opportunities I have created where I currently live.

I woke every day to the sight of Bla Bheinn (pronounced Blah Venn, approximately) towering above me, mostly dressed in snow while I was there, just a different quantity each morning. The mountain forms the lynch-pin of my novel. At the centrepoint of the writing, an unexpected drama unfolds on its heights, calling key characters to re-evaluate who they are, enabling essential clues  to fall in line, changing people’s destinies.

It is an immense presence – or rather, he is. For that is how I experience Bla Bheinn. A strongly masculine energy who will challenge and confront you, willl force you to match your principles with dynamic action and who will provide you with answers if you have the courage to ask.

I have faced death here on two occasions;  both times Bla Bheinn answered my call and showed me the way to climb to safety, but only – I believe – because I respected his ‘otherness’ and trusted him to hold me within the experience. To live in his presence, day after day, is demanding as well as glorious, and my host shared that he thought the energy of the mountain drives some people mad.

The island presents multiple opportunities to be real. The wildness and beauty of the scenery, with its overly-dramatic skylines, its spectacular weather and its constantly-changing views, demand a quality of response that instantly makes one understand how to be more deeply alive.

I saw rainbows nearly every day while I was there: huge, arching, magnificently-plunging, brightly-coloured curves of light, appearing unexpectedly against heavy, swirling, dark grey clouds, or springing from the ground in a surprising shower of misty rain, taking their turn between hurtling downpours of hail and snow, or matching the golden beams of sunlight scorching the water’s surface out towards the open sea.

And to cap it all, the biggest Supermoon since 1948, rising steadily in the night-sky, dancing between a myriad of bright stars, to sit in serene majesty over Bla Bheinn‘s heart-shaped peaks, pouring her reflected light down the mountain’s ancient and complex slopes from where it  tumbled gracefully over the loch and into the croft where I was staying.

This was the moment I chose to make the next step in publishing my book, a reality. I opened my CreateSpace account, sitting under those two connected and opposite energies, and began the launch of ‘The White And Silver Shore‘.