SAE ah dottit ower tae yon Howp Ower Fear shindig in George Square on Seturday past. Ah widnae normally hae bathered, like, but ah wis on ma wey doon tae Primark onywey, sae ah decidit tae hing a wee left an see whit the crack wis. Didnae kick aboot for lang. When ah got there, there wis a chiel on the stage daein a wee nummer aboot the Forty-Five, an a puckle stalls tae hae a keek roond – but ah didnae hiv a badge or a button on ma jaiket, or onythin at aw tae estaiblish ma pro-indy credentials, sae ah felt a bit weird daunderin aboot.

Kind o like ah wis lettin the side doon jist bi bein there an no wavin a flag or hivvin a guid time. Sae ah fired on doon tae Primark an got masel a Mighty Ducks T-shirt. It wisnae whit ah went in for, ken, but they seen me comin.

Ah dinnae want tae mak ower muckle o the oot-o-body natur o ma HOF experience. It’s naethin new. Ah feel like an unwantit visitor maist places ah gang. Whether it’s the richt wing o a fitba pitch or the lívin room o ma ain hoose, it’s aw jist Spare Pairt City tae me ... Still, questions maun be speirt, an the question ah cam awa fae it aw wi wis this: ‘Whit even IS Scotland?’

Which is kind o a beamer tae admit, at this stage, fower years efter the referendum – that ye still dinnae ken whit it wis supposed tae be aboot. It’s like speirin yer wife when her birthday is. But hing up the hairshirt for a meenit an ask yersel – whit even IS Scotland? An when did ye last think tae check? Wis it fower years ago? Wis it Seturday? Wis it jist the noo?

It’s easier tae say whit Scotland isnae than whit it is. It’s no racist, it’s no sexist, it’s no elitist, it’s no [tl;dr] England ... An yon’s a cantie wee dodge, but it disnae warstle us aff the heuk for awfie lang. There’s nae aff-the-rack answer tae the question o independence – ilka yin o us is responsible for settin oot a positive case, even gin it’s anely tae oorsels. Noo, preachin tae the convertit has been gettin wan hell o a rap lately, but there’s naethin wrang wi talkin amang oorsels. Sae here’s whit ah think Scotland is, an ye’ll tell me if ah’m wrang. Sometimes ye’ve tae gang aw the back roads afore ye cam tae the richt gate.

See, Scotland – tae me – isnae aboot unity or solidarity. Never has been. Gin ye grew up watchin us at the Warld Cup, there’s nae wey ye could let on that teamwark is wan o oor nation’s cardinal virtues. Every fower years, some o the best fitba players on the planet wad get thegither, fling on a daurk blue jersey, an act like they’d never set een on each ither in aw their days. Weel, tak that, times it by five million, an there’s yer Scotland.

Gang alang tae get alang? Nah, no us. The thirldom o the Unitit Kingdom has aye fittit us like a haun-knittit sweater. We’re a nation o iconoclasts an Contrary Marys an spanners in the warks, a trickster myth writ muckle. The idea o keepin the hale jingbang lockstepped alang the road tae oor brichter futur maks as much sense as walkin an airmy o capuchin monkeys doon Sauchiehall Street. Forget watter intae wine, or breid an fish tae feed the thoosands – aw raiglar eneuch occurrences up Glesga Green – the secular miracle o modern Scotland is that, in 2014, hauf o us agreed wi each ither lang eneuch tae ettle at daein somethin aboot it.

It’s a testament tae mony things, an mebbes no least o aw the essential lanesomeness o modern life, that Yes has hung thegither this lang. Twa referendums an three elections later, whit else in UK politics has bore the gree like yon blue an white ovals strandit haufwey up their lampposts? Sae we should face the inevitable splinderin o Yes no wi dismay, but wi howp in its renewal. Images, like onythin, are worn oot throu their uise; an the iconographies o the Yes campaign – the seembols, the stories, the slogans, the sangs – hiv been throu the wash ower mony times this past few years. They’re badly needin a creative refresh. But, as a nation, oor best creative efforts hae aye been individual. For Scotland tae rax its full potential, its citizens hiv tae pursue theirs – as fowk win tae their ain brainches in the road, they need tae be alloued tae follae thaim. Luve a thing, let it gang, an that.

Here’s whit ah’m meanin. Braveheart is a fine wee pictur aboot a wheen o white fellas pannin each ither’s coupons in. But the George Square argie-bargie ower it biled doon tae wan thing, an the wan thing wis that, as popular depictions o the Scottish zeitgeist gang, we hivnae really cam up wi onythin much better.

The films, poems, plays an sangs that mair faithfully reflect oor current strauchles are still wirkin their wey throu the system; they’ve been pit aff an pit aff while the fowk that should hiv been makkin thaim were oot leafletin an canvassin an rinnin for local cooncil.

Albert Camus got it intae his heid that a rebel wis a man wha says ‘naw’; an we’ll aye hae need o sic fowk, on oor streets an in oor pairlaments. But the experiment that is a nation needs mair than that. It needs ither vyces, time an space an support tae develop thaim, an the darg tae rig up the platforms they’ll want for tae be heard.

Acause they’re oot there, ye ken, thae ither Scotlands. On sílent days ye can hear thaim awready, faintly, like radio signals dinnlin in the fillins o yer teeth ...The beginnins o oor futur minglin wi the echoes o oor past. Says Shug MacDiarmid, “Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?”

Tae deny yon infinity o vyces isnae tae keep up the fecht; it’s tae gie it up. It’s the last defender’s studs-up tackle that wis never meant tae win the baw, jist the applause. We dinnae aw hiv tae agree on awthin, no ony mair. Agreement is whaur we’re stairtin fae, no whaur we’re gaun. Difference noo is nae disaster.

Ach, ah jalouse the mannie wis richt eneuch ... the Deil has aw the best lines, an yon scunner MacDiarmid wrote maist o thaim. “Tae be yersel and tae mak that worth bein, nae harder task tae mortals has been gi’en.”

That’s the job that’s facin us noo; tae chynge, an tae chynge fae within, then wirk oor wey oot. Tae chap the doors inside oorsels, an canvass the fowk that bide there. It’s a thocht, awricht. There’s nae gatewey less invitin, nae Naw voter mair radge, than the dirdum o oor ain herts. But it’s got tae be duin. Winter is comin. The buds are closin up, an nae force on earth can open them again but patience an a wee bit luve. Last year is deid, the poet says. Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.