It’s all about a 51- year – old man, Angus Mcdonald, nicknamed Mongus.
I met him in the Public square of Portree two days ago.
I was sitting on a stone bench, listening to the Pipe band show. Suddenly, a weird man came to say hello to me. As I was bored, I decided to stay and talk to this seemingly- drunk man. At first he was just making jokes of my name “yoyo”. He kept telling people who passed by that my name is Yoyo, and I am from Hong Kong etc. Weird enough, I didn’t feel embarrassed. I just thought that he is a funny guy.
The pipe band still went on. Angus asked me to dance together. I said “No”.
He laughed at me, “why? No one knows about you here! I am sure if we go out and dance, all the people will dance together.” In fact he was right, no one knows about me. Why the hell I have to control myself as a “normal person”. Everyone out there watching the show was a bit controlled in emotion. They would love to dance and have fun. I wouldn’t mind dancing together. However, the next song performed was a sad song, not good for dancing.
Then he told me his story of life.
His lover (partner) died few years ago, and his daughters are studying in Glasgow soon. It sounds like a sad story. An old man living in the Skye alone…
But as I kept listening, he changed his tone, and said,
“I don’t give a shit to anyone else. I was a tv program of the American Nomad yesterday. It was so good. When I come home, I felt that I am just Me! I am Me.”
He told me he has a house in Staffin in Skye, which was built in 1912, hundred years of history.
“My dream is to sell my house and then buy a boat. I will travel around Scotland with the boat. Picking sea shells on the seashore, and sell them for 25 pounds per bucket. Fishing my lobsters for breakfast. As simple as that!”
I was so impressed by his simple and nomadic dream, and I really wanted to leave my boring tour group to see his house the next day. He bought himself a beer and for me a coke in a bar, and pointed on the map that hangs on the wall. “With a house, you have only one fixed window frame. But with a boat, I can put my window frame here, or here , or here!” He asked if I will go to his house to have a look.
” I really want to, but my tour bus is going to pick me up at the morning”. He said, ” You are an individual. I’m not telling you what to do or not.”
So the next morning, I made up my mind, and met him at the public square early at 9am. We got on to the bus to Staffin. Oh yeah, I followed a mad man to a wild place that I had never been to! (Maybe I am a bit mad too. Happy madness!) The house was not as grand as I imagined, but it is still truly stunning. Facing the sea, backed with a mountains and green fields, what more can you ask for? Angus told me that that whole piece of land belongs to his father… And his father is a wild swimmer who swims with the cattle to the other island. Oh, and it’s not a joke. I found his father on BBC news. How weird to find these unbelievable stories on BBC news! ( Actually this makes me feel better… at least what I heard from this random man was true stories dude!)
His house, composed by three structures, is actually in ruin state. No body lives in there – deteriorated interior, cracks on the walls, wild vegetation inside the house… But still, it is a lovely place. (At least for me. I probably have developed a lust of ruins)
Angus told me that he wanted to sell the house only to young couples who will probably have a family. He doesn’t want to sell to retired couples. He wants people in this house to be happy, to have a good life. Probably he had a lot of happy moments in this house long time ago, and would love to pass it on.
Although the house is a ruin now, it doesn’t feel like a dead place. Refurbishment can be done to make it an interesting and lively space to live. He said there’s so much potentials to be a good house. I kept saying “Yes!” and I could even imagine that it will look so great with some intervention, strategically designed with new and old parts. It is not just an architectural interest, but it is the spirit behind impressed me the most. An abandoned or ruined object may symbolize a fall of happiness, pride, or honor, but what makes life so wonderful is that these seemingly negative things can always reborn to something with hope! Bringing new- life to something dying, healing the deteriorating, inheriting the lost happiness to other people, rediscovering a new love relationship to the once- abandoned… Isn’t that the most beautiful thing on earth? This sentimental thought led me to think about the meaning of preservation and conservation. These words are now no longer just academic terms, but truly meaningful and emotional actions. Conservation is no longer just changing function, but to pass on the long lost spirit in an alternative way to prolong its life. It sounds like “incarnation” of Buddhism. Ah, and in Buddhism, one keeps practicing with good will to become a better being and eventually sublimes. Maybe the same thought should be applied to “Conservation”?
Walking across the bushes and rocks, Angus showed me the site of an ancient village, which is now an empty grass land. Good imagination was needed to picture this empty place was once occupied by thousands of people. But through his description, I could imagine how people lived near the seashore, transporting their food along the little path on the hill towards the other villages, buying and selling seafood next to the port… The contrast between the imagination and the empty site composed an interesting mental debate. I experienced the “emptiness”, “the presence of absence” by looking at this empty field with Angus’ verbal descriptions.
The Mad Angus brought me the experiences that I will never learnt from books. He brought me to climb across the bushes, down to a water tunnel! Down there was a peaceful hidden area, in which you know no one’s gonna find you there. Nothing really matters at all.
Angus kept saying “Thank you” to me. He said I inspired him and he admired my individuality. He was so grateful that I chose to believe him, and I was not like the other people who judge him as a crazy man. Now, he is so determined to sell his house and get his own boat! Such a Bold Nomadic Scott! I am so happy for him.
This special expedition will probably be on my brain forever. I promised him I will keep faith in myself, and am not going to be a fucking robot.
There’re so many ways to fulfill one’s dream. You can always walk out your own path on the mountains. Choose the one belongs to you. Don’t regret. You only live once!