~North Coast 500 Journal~

“Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him.”
― Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain.

I can’t believe the last time I wrote here was February. Oops. So much has happened since then… so much that I was hesitant about even writing this and sharing these images as it all seems such a long time ago now. I’ve been going through all the photographs I took over the past few months and it’s been nice to re-live summer through these images, and so I figured I would share them here instead of leaving them to gather dust on my hard drive as so often happens.

In May my friend Ellis and I decided that we would road-trip the North Coast of Scotland and loosely follow the North Coast 500 route which is an approximately 500 mile trip around some of the most beautiful coastline of Scotland. Ellis and I are both so in love with the landscapes of Scotland and so we spent most of the journey overwhelmed with the raw, wild, beauty and peace that can only be found in remote places in nature. The following is a short visual journal of that journey…

 

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Chilean poetry beautifully etched into the rocks at Sannick Bay

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Collecting fresh mountain water from the well

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(Selfies thanks to Ellis!)

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Life and Death

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I had hoped that January would be productive and creative. It wasn’t. Much of it was spent in tears, making impossibly hard decisions, and questioning why everything we love will sooner or later be separated from us. Winter is a time of reflection and introspection and I have been reflecting a lot.

The past few years have taught me much about life, loss and death, and yet I still know so little. I have held hands and paws as spirits surrendered and it was harder than I ever imagined. I lost two of the most precious beings in my life, one human and one animal, both irreplaceable and sacred. I watched friends lives be turned upside down by unexpected loss. I watched in those close to me, and observed within myself the intense pain, emptiness and purposelessness that loss weaves into those left behind.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about death, grief, and transition – how our culture instills so much fear and taboo around death and I don’t think it is healthy. We need open-ness, awareness and freedom to feel and express ourselves.

There have been moments in the last few years where I have questioned the purpose of life, because it can feel meaningless when we have to lose those we care so deeply about. I have learned that nothing is really mine to keep forever. All things shall pass. And so what I have come to believe is this: The only way to live unburdened of the truth that loss and change are inevitable, is to live wholly and fully while we can, right now. To be vibrantly, unapologetically, recklessly, colourfully alive. Initially it made me feel guilty to feel that way, I felt like it was disrespectful to those who no longer had life, but I have come to realise that it is far from that, it is the highest respect we can pay to those we have lost, to honour them by living our own lives fully. We spend so many of our days wrapped up in the superficial mundanity of everyday life that we miss what is real and what is truly important. We have to reconnect with the wild beauty of the world. We have to start living as though we are passionately alive: to be fully present in each moment as it is, to explore the planet, to explore our consciousness, to watch the sunsets, to experience the wonders of nature, to see the mountains and the rivers and the oceans and the forests. And to love. To love through loss, through sorrow, through heartbreak, through happiness, through fear. Love so fiercely that love becomes greater than fear.

I have decided to stop wasting time on things which aren’t important. It is time to go out and live, to see the world, to be free, to adventure, to love unconditionally. The antidote to death and grief is to be fully alive.

“Leave the path of death, and follow the path of life. Leave attachment to things and places, and instead enjoy the liberty of detachment. Do not cling to foolish friends, instead rejoice in solitude. Break free from possessions and from desires – from whatever may darken the mind. Attachment to things and to places is spiritual bondage, and leads to darkness. Surrender all attachments, and enjoy the pure light of spiritual freedom. Even in this mortal life you can enjoy eternal nirvana.”

― Dhammapada

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