So much of modern life feels superficial - time spent only waiting for the next moment to begin or distracting ourselves from the moment at hand with whatever device is most convenient. We consume and consume, and it takes away from our ability to create. We lack creativity. We lack inspiration. We lack desire. But there are ways to be jolted out of the rut. For me, it is the rugged rocks of a mountain peak casting shadows on the valley below that inspires me to think beyond myself.
And so I have spent a lot of time in the mountains seeking the strength they deliver. But here, on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, the mountains feel different. They feel older, almost tired. Like they have worn out under their own weight and now are willing to crumble under your foot as you step on the graveled rocks. They peer down like old men – their stony faces turned to the sea, watching the steady rise of grey mists that roll up their slopes and evaporate into the air. They know what it is to have lived.
We move across them like the shadows of drifting clouds, following brown lines cut out of the spongy green moorland. Waves of grey rock disrupt the sea of green that surrounds us and pinnacles of stone break apart the angled slopes we climb. Boulders matching these stone towers are strewn about carelessly, as if a child forgot to clean up after being called away quickly for dinner.
The elements combine to present a landscape that you think must never have changed. It just feels ancient, mysterious, like it has seen it all. This sensation of longevity resonates deep within me. Perhaps I brought it along as part of my expectations because of what Scotland represents to me: a heritage, a past life, a connection to my history.
My last name is Livingston. A little research connects me with the prominent Livingstons of Callendar, a semi-royal family who peaked back in the Middle Ages before choosing the wrong side of a revolution. While our royalty has faded, that Scottish blood is still in my veins – I have a distinct memory of wearing a kilt to school one day in the third grade, certainly a rarity in College Station, Texas where I lived at the time.
A quarter-mile long bridge connects Skye with the rest of the British Isle. Approaching that bridge, the road travels above several loch-filled valleys that reflect the sky and peaks above.
Across the bridge, houses dot the hills high above the shoreline, their walls washed white and glaring against the brown and green of the highland heath. I watch them as we pass, and wonder what it is like to own your piece of paradise. What is it like to wake every morning to rising sea mists passing below the tops of jagged cliffs and ridgelines? Does it change the way you think, the way you live, the way you look at the people around you?
A sharp curve in the road jolts me back to the present and I must settle for owning that moment, that memory, and the connection I came for.