growinghumans


Scotland
June 3, 2017, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s a funny idea–the notion of going on a sort of adventure in search of something. What drives us from the safety of our houses onto an unknown road trying to find something that we never knew was missing from us?

As I boarded my plane that would take me over the wide Atlantic I found myself thinking about the notion of finding what I was looking for or finding myself while over there. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I didn’t know what I was going to find.

I wandered deep into the Scottish highlands, standing in basins among gargantuan hills that, unlike mountains, had rolling crests like the profile of a dear lover’s face where glaciers had slowly roamed and settled.

I followed rivers for miles to find blue and green pools of water where surely fairies must have taken up residency.

I intrepidly maneuvered my way down to the edge of the pools, dipping my mortal finger tips into freezing and divine waters. I flicked a coin into them and watched as it settled down with the pebbles. The day was cloudy–the day was always cloudy–but somehow light reflected off of the coin that I left as an offering. A wish. A gleaming wish.

I turned around to see how far I had walked to get to where I was and the road wasn’t even visible. It was like I had fallen out of time and I wondered how far I could keep walking– deeper and deeper into the prehistoric wilds of Scotland.

Away from everything I had known. Away from lives that I thought I had wanted. Away from expectations and disappointments. I would vanish without a trace.

But I didn’t keep walking. Eventually I turned around and followed my own footsteps back to civilization and drove on, marveling at how many shades of green seemed to exist all of a sudden.

I passed lakes, the water’s edge so close to the car you felt like you could just reach your hand out and drag your fingers along their surfaces as you passed by, like a skipping rock or the kiss of a fish as it bobs up to catch a bug–just leaving a small ripple in its place.

I got lost in gardens, heard the bleat of thousands of newborn lambs, meandered through castles, smelled the cold and grey scent of open ocean.

I traveled through every season, every kind of terrain, every dream I had ever come up with.

I struggled.

When an incline was too steep, when my body had used up all of its reserves and I could feel my muscles eating themselves, I stopped. I bent over and gasped for air or tried to find a place to rest, to watch everyone else pass me by on their own journey, probably not even seeing me in my failed state; lost in their own euphoria.

A voice urged me on. I had to try to get to just the next check point, then rest again. It was always just a little bit away to the next check point. Don’t look at the big picture. Don’t look up. Don’t feel dwarfed. Keep your eyes on the path ahead of you, keep your eyes on your own feet and you’ll eventually find yourself in a place you never thought you could get to.

I did not find something that I had been missing in Scotland. I did not suddenly feel like a different person and realize some sort of personal potential while getting lost on roads with no names and highways that could only accommodate one way traffic. When I woke up in the morning and looked at myself in the mirror, I recognized the girl looking back at me. She was no stranger.

I didn’t find anything, but I lost plenty. I lost layers of myself that I had always hid behind. Missing was my connection to the outside world; my need to validate my experiences with other people who weren’t on that journey with me. That faded. Gone was my self conscious sense of appearance. I let the wind whip my hair into all sorts of disarray. My cheeks chapped in the cold. I arrived back to my room damp and disheveled more nights than not. I let go of my need for control. If I felt lost or defeated, I didn’t curl up into a small ball and start heaving and gasping. Paths are there for a reason, roads–no matter how small–always lead somewhere and if you don’t have a finish line, if you don’t have an agenda, there is no reason to ever feel lost or out of control.

You are never in control in the first place. I learned that as well. It will always rain. There will always be traffic. You will not always know where you are.

All you can control is your reaction to those things around you. Controlling your reaction may seem like a large undertaking; I know before this trip it always seemed easier said than done for someone with my emotional capacities.

But, here is what I learned about controlling your reactions:

It never means having to reel yourself in. Controlling doesn’t mean holding back or girding yourself from something you might have a large reaction to.

It means being brave enough to crack your chest bones and grabbing your own heart. It means giving yourself room on the inside to experience everything around you. Things only seem hard if you yourself are a hard person. Become soft and let the world around you seep in like damp sand during low tide.

Unhappiness, fear, stress, heart break–these things are only mirror images of preconceived notions that you thrust upon yourself. It is easy when you around jobs and technology and people to set up expectations–linear expectations–of what happiness, calm, and fulfillment feel like.

Don’t do that.

I stood in a world that over whelmed me and I felt full. There was no divide of emotions anymore–I felt happy and loved and calm and encouraged all at the same time.

It was all the same feeling, don’t you see?

It’s not that I found myself in the hills of Scotland.

It’s that Scotland took everything that wasn’t truly me away.  I had been under there the whole time, like a sleeping druid.

And when it was time to go, to board the plane and fly back over the ocean to where divided emotions ruled, it didn’t feel like a goodbye. It felt like an assault.

I wasn’t ready.

And I was scared.

What would become of me back in the world without all of my armor, without all of emotional defenses and notions? The world I was returning to was a hard world and I had just become a soft soul.

But I left, just the same. I let time and expectation rip me from that country, from those hills and fields. It all seemed unfair. It seemed like everything I had learned had been in vain. I felt like kicking and screaming as I drove across the border, back to the airport.

It suddenly felt like everything had been a dream.  Like a twist ending to some 60’s tv sitcom show. It didn’t feel like it had really happened. I looked out of my window as I drove through the hills, the lakes, the sea in reverse realization and discovery.

I memorized it all. It was real and no one was going to take it from me. No matter how soft I had let myself become, no one would rob me of this.

 

 

But still, I lamented.

 

“How can I leave you?” I asked quietly, as I left.

“But my love, if you don’t leave now, how will you ever return to me?” Scotland whispered back and it sounded like lullaby.

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1 Comment so far
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Wow. 🙂 I love this. I want to share this with everyone.

Comment by Ruth




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