I just finished hiking the West Highland Way in northern Scotland. I’m going to split my trip experience into two blogs so I can share more of what I learned, the fun I had along the way, as well as more pictures.
My intention for this hike was to do as much of the 96 mile trail as I could before going to work at a hostel in Fort Williams, Scotland. I thought that in the 6 days I had available, I would get through six of the eight sections of the trail. No problem. However, since I was wild camping, which means that I was camping wherever the heck I felt like it, I was able to go a little bit farther every day if I had the energy, which I often did, so I finished it all. I met up with fun people on the trail and got to talk about life, the world, and everything. This blog is about the people that inspired me.
One couple that I met on day two of my hike was 836 miles into their 1180 mile hike that they had planned over three months. They were hiking trails from England to the north of Scotland, and their fun goal was to not hike on any paved roads. They had planned out their full adventure ahead of time, and with only a (fairly) small backpack on each of their backs, they managed to do an average of only 4 miles on a paved road for every hundred they traveled.
This means that they often go out of their way and do trails that are not well-marked. They sometimes have to use GPS or hike through bogs. They were happy and joyful and exuberant to be together, and to see and explore so much on their time off. They shared their fire, their tea, and some port with me as we talked. They were mostly wild camping as well, but every 10 to 12 days would splurge for a hostel or a bed-and-breakfast. They told me great stories about people in England letting them camp in their backyards or in their gardens, as wild camping is not as acceptable there as it is in Scotland. I loved their playful adventurous spirit, and the trust that they had that everything would work out. And when it didn’t, they would find a way to make the best of it and have fun anyway. It’s what I strive to do, and it was so lovely to see a couple who was making this their journey for so many months together.
Another man that inspired me is one I ran into on my last day of my hike. I did 21 miles the day before, and was pushing through 15 miles with a 22-year-old from Amsterdam who was studying yoga and trying to figure out what to do with his life while finishing an economics and computer degree. But the man in question was living in Chicago, originally from India, and he was on day nine of his hike. What makes him so special? He was 76 years old, and full of smiles and joy. He was by himself, and was just going at the pace that he was comfortable with. It inspired me, because my goal in life is to keep moving for as long as I can. I’ve met 80-year-olds who downhill ski still. It is easy to say that someone is too old to do an activity, or that is too dangerous. But if we keep our bodies moving, eat with some reasonable degree of healthiness, and keep our mental attitude young, we can do anything. Especially if we find a physical or mental activity that we are passionate about. Movement is life, and when we keep our minds curious and open, our bodies moving-at any pace, and keep healing and growing, I really believe we can embody more peace and happiness.
The 22-year-old from Amsterdam that I mentioned was hiking by himself. We talked about philosophy, and how to embrace peace within ourselves and in relationships. We talked about serious and sad subjects such as the Holocaust, and the type of separation and dissociation that needed to happen for that event to occur. We talked about the separation happening in current cultures, and the power of the words that are used in the news and the impact they have on our view of others. We talked about Gandhi, philosophies of peace, and how different generations viewed and currently view relationships of all kinds. He inspired me to think about peace and violence in a different way. Many religions/spiritual teachings encourage nonviolence. But how do we practice non-violence towards ourselves? In other words… be compassionate and forgiving for your own actions and your own supposed shortcomings. Most of us are harder on ourselves than we are on others, including yours truly. My goal now is to remember to be as forgiving to myself as I am to others, and to remember that I’m always doing the best I can. I even read that in a book called The Four Agreements many years ago! But for me it’s an easy one to forget, even with the healing work I do with my practitioners.
I hope this blog inspires you to have fun, be kinder to yourself, be more loving and compassionate to others, and to move through life with ease and grace, no matter your age, no matter your circumstances, and no matter your struggles. Everything can be overcome because you are strong and powerful human. And if you need a reminder of that, just read that sentence again or ask your best friend how awesome you are. 🙂 Following are some pictures that I’m sorry I can’t label right now because I’m using my phone as my only computer.
With LOVE and peace, Dawn