The year was 1965. My father and I were on a short holiday at Wullie’s place on the island of Islay, in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. My Gaelic-speaking grandmother was born on Islay, and Dad spent some boyhood summers there. Wullie, his cousin, had visited Scotland’s mainland many years before, but was in no hurry back.
Island time was different to mainland time. Sixty minutes to the hour, twenty-four hours to the day, and seven days to the week; these were the same, but the mental and emotional approach to living life within those boundaries was different.
Speaking of the changeableness of the weather and its effect on shipping, Cousin Wullie said, "If the boht [boat/ferry] disna’ [doesn’t] come in today, then perhaps it’ll come in tomorrow, and if it disna’ come in tomorrow, then maybe it’ll come in the following day. But if it doesn’t, then there’s no point in fretting about it; the boht will get here when it gets here." Then, with the sagacity of a learned and true islander, he added, "Ach, life is far too short as it is, without rushing out of it!"
Ah, who knows? Perhaps there was a consistently high level of efficiency, compensating for lack of speed by the making of fewer mistakes; and maybe islanders like Wullie McNeil lived at a pace that could really be called ‘living’. They ordered their lives in such a manner that their inner voice was less crowded, their vision less clouded, and their enjoyment of the goodness of the Creator unbounded.
He is the author of "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press).
His current project is ghost writing an historical biography, and he continues writing weekly in The Watford-Guide Advocate.