Has a book ever changed your life? Well, I can say that one book changed mine and it all started with a dream of mine – and that dream was to go to Scotland. I’d always wanted to go to there, and heck, I’m not sure why. There was just something about it – the history, the mysteries, the breathtaking beauty, the culture – the place always attracted me and for years I tried my hardest to go there, but every single plan fell through. I mean it! I even tried to study abroad there while in college, but that plan ended when an unexpected cost and miscalculation arose. After so many letdowns later, I just gave up. Clearly, for some reason, I just wasn’t supposed to go to Scotland and so, with a heavy heart, I let the idea of travelling there go. Life of course went on, but, if I was honest with myself, the thought of traveling to Scotland was always there, in the back of my mind and even though the desire had dimmed as time passed, my flame for Scotland was an ember that was still quietly glowing.
And the flame sparked one day when an article in the newspaper about a book called Outlander, caught my eye. Written by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander follows the tale of a WWII nurse named Claire who accidentally falls through time to 1743 Scotland and falls in love with a Highland warrior named Jamie Fraser. The plot summary of Outlander was enough for me to seek out the book and devour it. The story was just exciting, romantic, and right then, I knew that the time was right and nothing was going to stop me – so I purchased a plane ticket to Scotland. Yep, it was just me with the world at my fingertips, and Outlander as my inspiration.
And so, I crossed the Atlantic this past March and landed in a completely foreign land with only the company of myself and the backpack upon my back. I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for what I was about to experience, but there I was amongst the bustle of Edinburgh, being watched by the ghosts of unseen royals within Edinburgh Castle.
Tasting the tang of whisky, walking amongst the clamor of the Royal Mile, standing in awe of the craggy and sweeping views.
Of course, my guides were Jamie and Claire! I journeyed with them from Edinburgh through the wilds of the Highlands to Inverness. I befriended a Highlander himself and he quite literally took me back in time as I followed him through the Jacobite risings, learned what it took to be a Highland warrior, walked across Culloden Battlefield, journeyed to a circle of standing stones, and, at the end of it all, discovered pieces to the puzzle of my own family’s Scottish heritage.
Walking along Loch Ness, falling into a thieves’ pot, climbing to the top of a faerie hill, journeying into castles, pony trekking amongst the Pentlands, making friends I will never forget, my own outlandish Outlander adventure was a trip that I will never forget. I took a chance, gambled with a risk, and came away with a life changing experience all because of one story about a woman who journeys through time and falls in love. Claire’s life changed the moment she fell through the standing stones and mine changed as soon as I read the first page of Outlander. I’ve always heard that books and stories have a power and a magic and that they can take readers on a journey, but I never knew that that was literally true.