… it’s shite being Scottish …
A snippet of an iconic rant from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh?
Or the beginning of something more interesting and profound?
New readers are encouraged to read first here why this blog is called it’s shite being Scottish; to read here about why the subtitle is Mindfulness, Munro bagging and cancer; and to draw their own conclusions.
Duncan Spence is the combination of my parent’s family names. When I write, I feel as if I am using the best of what they each gave me to the best of my ability. Their gift to me is this passion for writing out whatever has to be said. They were the authors of my life; their names are the author of this narrative on my life. In real life I remain who I am.
When I first claimed the domain name, I wanted to use the blog to rant about the politics and philosophy of being Scottish, but I was never able to get it started. The binary logic of the Scottish independence referendum forced me to work out exactly my position, but it was too difficult to pluck a narrative from thin air and to begin blogging. Now with this Brexit and Perfidious Albion daily celebrating its perfidy, it has become much easier to find a political voice, although I defer to more humorous and articulate commentators than me. Although I owned the domain name in 2014 when I began again to climb mountains, I knew my ideas about philosophy were regarded as challenging and difficult, and I did not feel I could sustain any accessible, original or interesting writing. So I sat on the domain name, just waiting for a reason to start blogging.
Then, in the summer of 2015, as I was completing the Glen Lyon Horseshoe, I realised that I wanted to climb as many Munros as I could before I died from the effects of the malignant prostate cancer that was allegedly spreading aggressively throughout my body, And so, the blog was presented with a reason for its existence. At the start of 2016, I posted tentatively for the first time about climbing mountains with cancer and began (retrospectively) recording my achievements.
The blog has become a partial record of this unfolding journey, many turns of which have taken me by surprise. With every new summit I reach, my view of the massive topography of this country expands, my mind is brought into contact with its insignificance and my body rejuvenated. No matter how dreadful I feel, no matter how bleak the prognosis, no matter how troubled and desperate I become, getting out into the hills sets everything into perspective. In this writing it is my privilege to share the experience of this vital connection, this glimpse of something less denatured than the daily toils and illusions of society.
Not everybody reads these words for the same reasons.
Some readers are interested only in the walk reports and descriptions of mountain life – of whom some are no longer able to get out, and so feel transported to the great outdoors again by my words. Some are fascinated by what might be called the phenomenology of determinism – the mental struggles I encounter with the edifice of medical technocracy and its anachronistic metaphysics. Some are inspired by my tenacity and refusal to succumb. Some are taken by the explicitly Buddhist elements of my journey. Some are very much in agreement with the general political position I take, while others are either unaware of this, or do not allow it to get in the way of their reading. Some are moved by my honesty, my willingness to lay bare life in writing and to make public matters that often remain unspoken.
To everybody who reads these words, for whatever reason, thank you. I hope they inspire you to push against your own perceived limits in whatever way.
Finally, it is necessary to claim ownership of all photographs (except one or two used by permission), and formally to state that the ideas, opinions and experiences expressed herein are designed explicitly to be shared widely, disseminated and discussed, while all specific arrangements of words remain strictly copyright.
Love and peace
Duncan Spence © 2015 – 2019