As you may know from my last post Magic Made Real, my daughter and I traveled to Scotland this summer. Traveling to the United Kingdom has been on my radar for as long as I can remember. But after reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Scotland developed its own special place in my heart. I had to see for myself the beauty and mystery of this land. I saved, planned, and imagined; researched websites, read books and studied maps so I could explore the landscape, hike the highlands, and immerse myself in the culture. I desired a spiritual experience and took the steps to create my own unique tour.
I wonder if it is possible to eliminate expectations altogether? I stay mindful of expectations that crop up in my life and work to understand my vision, desire, hope, or dream attached to these expectations. Once those are untangled, I say a prayer of gratitude and replace the expectation with acceptance knowing what will be will be. It sounds very Zen and sometimes it is. But many times it is not always such a peaceful process.
When it came to my intended trip to Scotland, I was warned that my expectations might be too high. I was reminded to stay open because spiritual experiences can happen anywhere (and least of all when expected). Yep…I understood and believed I did not have any lofty expectations.
The trip was absolutely amazing, and spirit also hit me with a massive sledgehammer.
It took me a month to process this journey. I started blog posts and deleted them within minutes. I have had difficulty finding the words to describe this trip. It was amazing, exciting, beautiful, adventurous, and an experience I will never forget. And simultaneously I felt disappointed, frustrated, disconnected, and confused.
What I wanted most was to feel connected to the energy of Scotland and experience the history or magic that (in my mind) makes Scotland what it is. When I didn’t get what I thought I was seeking, I felt a profound sense of disappointment and frustration.
- I may not have been in the right place
- The timing was off
- I struggled to get grounded
- The necessity to “separate” the energy from the energy of the hordes of tourists
- The stress and chaos created by the airlines losing our luggage for seven days (yes! 7 days!!)
- The stress of conflicts and other situations that felt like barriers
By the end of the first week I believed I had wasted my hard-earned money and was ready to go home, but I had two more weeks left and felt thoroughly miserable.
After a good cry (because crying is always very cathartic for me), I drew on my fortitude, and explored avenues to make the best out of a tough situation. The logical option would have been to practice the Zen notion of going with the flow and allow the trip to unfold as it may.
Hahahahahah!!! No, no! Why would I want to use what I teach and practice most of the time? Instead, for whatever reason, I chose the opposite and pushed for the experience that I stubbornly sought!
The Great Glen Way is a 79 mile “long distance path” from Inverness to Fort William and is divided into six stages. Hiking had always been a part of my vision for this trip, so I created the opportunity to hike the sixth stage of the Great Glen Way – Inverness to the wee village of Drumnadrochit.
(As a side note – when you ask someone in Scotland how far it is to another place, they put it in terms of time, not miles. All the literature stated this was a 7-hour hike. That was backed up by the friendly and kind young man at the tourist information center. Not bad…I knew I could manage 7 hours. Had I done the math (I average 3 mph x 7 hours = 21 miles) or been told it was an 18-mile journey… I may have thought twice about walking the entire stage. I didn’t ask and I didn’t calculate. Never once was there consideration for the actual mileage involved, I was determined to go all the way. After all, I generally always have a spiritual experience when I hike and I was chasing the high of that experience.
As a result, I put my body through hell to capture what I thought my soul was seeking. I wanted to have some insight about the lesson of this adventure as it unfolded. I wished desperately to allow my imagination to run and find the depths of the story. I got stuck in searching for reasons we were not supposed to be on a certain flight or be in Edinburgh at the planned time, or why we needed to be without our luggage for a week, or the purpose of conflicts and stress. Perhaps it was the universe protecting us from accidents or other mishaps. Maybe the lesson was to slow down or learn to live without “baggage” for a short time. I just wanted Spirit to send me an email with the answers!!
While I didn’t get the answers on my hike (and I certainly did not get an email), I have found hindsight to be a precious gift. After a month of processing this trip and getting out of my mind and into my heart, I was finally able to allow my imagination to flow and develop a greater level of observation about this journey.
And suddenly one morning there was an epiphany! I finally understood that, like a forest fire, these events were necessary to strip me down to the core to allow for release and new growth. My antagonist suddenly became a great catalyst and the self-imposed trauma to my body connected me in a different way than I ever imagined. I had to traumatize my body, soul, and spirit to allow the catalyst to take hold and break old molds. And I am grateful.
I went to Scotland with a purpose and a sense that I was supposed to connect with someone or something. I had no idea what that would look like but was prepared for any type of insight or spiritual enlightenment. I did meet some amazing people along the way. But the most amazing person I met was a more authentic version of myself and the discovery of the necessity to express my unique soul without apology.
What I will tell you today without excuse or apology is:
I am free-thinking, hippie, biker chick; I live conservatively – practical, pragmatic, thoughtful, frugal, common sense, embracing free will and choice, and being mindful; I love writing and public speaking; I love studying and talking about the soul and other soulful subjects; I love being soulful; I love art; I am intrigued with the universe (actual and spiritual); I encourage peace and love while understanding the necessity of war and violence; If I had to pigeonhole myself into a religion I would choose Taoism because of its emphasis of wu wei (effortless action), naturalness, simplicity, spontaneity, compassion, frugality, and humility; I am kind, compassionate, and usually give freely of myself but can also be selfish; I accept and understand that everyone is doing the best they can; I also accept that I can be impatient with others and not always behave with grace; I absolutely love riding my Harley when and wherever I can; I love curling up in a warm blanket with a mug of tea and a good book; I love being with my family and my four-legged friends; I crave being in nature in whatever form I can get; I’m intrigued by science even though I do not always understand it; I’m intrigued by human behavior, even though I do not always understand it; I have a sense of humor, honor my intuition, and believe in the good of all people while understanding that not all people are good; I believe in and practice conservation – we are the stewards of the land and need to take care of it; I do not watch the news or read newspapers because I do not believe in the fear and drama the media sells; I can be easily influenced by others, so have learned to ask myself what is right for me and what is not right for me; I am a strong woman, an entrepreneur, and enjoy challenges and hard work; I believe in noticing my own power and doing what is within my power to do; I can be contradictory because the world is not black and white and most things can make sense; I understand and accept the law of universal balance (Yin and Yang); I believe in and support my country with all it amazing uniqueness and quirks; I believe in acceptance without necessity of agreement; I have faith and trust that everything works out for the highest and best interests of all; and most of all, I believe in magic.
It has taken me awhile to process this adventure and now I can see and accept the divine universal dance that took place in that magical land of Scotland. It was a spiritual experience. It wasn’t comfortable and my emotions ran high but since when has change been easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be as profound or memorable. As it is, I will never forget and will always be grateful!
Thank you Scotland!