My time in Scotland has come to an end. It’s been nearly five years and I’ve never felt as at home as I did in these lands. I feel immense gratitude. But I feel sad. With change comes loss.
As is often my experience shortly before I leave somewhere I become sensitive to everything nourishing I have around me – the safe spaces, the favourite places, the nourishing routine, the connections to all my people, the support, the smiles – I appreciate how important they have been in my life.
In fact, in these last months in Scotland my life has never felt so rich and wholesome – I was enjoying the flat that I lived in, my relationships were flourishing, and I had a better understanding of my own mental health. I had put a lot of energy into developing these areas of my life – and why wouldn’t I – they are after all the aspects of life that are considered to be the most important for well-being.
I think back to when I first came to Scotland. In all honesty I didn’t really want to come. I got offered a job in Scotland whilst a month or so into a cycle tour through England and France. I had begun that journey at the end of my then previous job in Manchester and I had intended to just keep cycling – south, south and south, until it felt right, if it ever did, to come back. But the fear I had of missing out on a career opportunity was too strong; and so I returned from my cycle tour when it simply didn’t feel right.
Those first months in Scotland were difficult. Each time I ran into difficulty with my job I’d think of the joy I could be having pedalling my bike through misty mountains. Or the wonder I might otherwise be experiencing through waking up in my tent in a strange and remote place. I’d sit with some remorse about how easily I’d given up listening to the needs of my body and my heart.
Then came the tent living daysAlthough my job remained at times a struggle I got round to accepting where I was and noticing just how beautiful Scotland is. Scotland has some fine hills and after a few months grounding in Edinburgh I re-connected to my sense of adventure and I took to living in the hills in my tent for quite a while near where I worked in Stirling. Each day I would leave work with my home on my back and find just the right spot to nourish my nightly needs. Such a joy.
I look back with wonder and disbelief about how I was living my life at that time – it was an enriching time. Although it was physically demanding to live that way I found that it supported me in my academic life by enabling me to deepen in the practice of my research findings by living with less reliance on money and remaining just as happy.
In relationship to others
But in this tent-living experience I could sometimes feel overwhelmed with loneliness. Occasionally I would have friends come and stay but I missed being around people and when emotional difficulty arose I could really struggle.
One year I was staying in my tent until early December. Unsurprisingly it had gotten really cold and at this point I began staying with friends. A couple of nights with one friend, a couple of nights with another. Since I only stayed a little bit with each person and there were lots of great people who were intrigued by how I was living and willing to help it seemed to work out OK. In the spirit of gift, I would come over and cook something, stories would be shared, much joy and laughter would be exchanged, and I would have a warm floor/couch/bed to sleep on.
This experience brought more sharing, more openness, and more giving into my life, and ultimately deepened the intimacy of many of my relationships. Gratitude abounds for all the gifts shared. I also became intimately involved with a being and eventually I moved in with them. We had some truly joyous heart-touching moments. It was deep and meaningful, and we shared a wonderful dream about how we wanted to live in this world. But there was difficulty…
It’s questionable whether we fully heard and supported one another in the way we both needed and relationship eventually broke down in a manner in which I had perhaps seen before in previous relationships. I begun to deeply question who I was and how I manifested within relationships. The eventual learnings were a blessing but it was challenging to look at my-self and this took time.
Mental health – taking responsibility and requesting support as I need it
I can see now that I am unable to truly support others in their process if I am not myself supported in some way. I often find myself surrounded by people who seem to need support. Yet for most of my life I have been fairly oblivious to my own needs for support.
Somewhere in my life I seem to have developed a belief that I must sacrifice my own needs for support for the sake of another’s needs. Although I’m not yet fully sure where this belief comes from – maybe from watching others, perhaps it is because of issues of self-worth, or even of grandiosity – the important learning for me is that in attempting to support others when I am deficient in support my-self it seems that no-one actually gets the support they need.
I find myself getting bogged down with resentment, frustration, and anger. Then, when my emotions eventually surface; rather than take ownership of my emotions, I tend to place blame with the person I’ve believed myself to be supporting. This is a behaviour that perhaps served me once in my early life but doesn’t really serve me now. I think I have a lot of repressed emotions – they are buried deep from years of not being in environments where I have felt heard and supported. I need a lot of support and I haven’t even known it.
This last year I’ve plunged deep into my being and I see that I can best support others when I am best supporting myself. I best support myself through knowing myself, and listening deeply to what I need moment to moment, and when necessary making clear requests of my-self and others as to the support I might need. Of course this doesn’t mean I can actually do it all the time – it just means that I know a bit better as to what I need to do when things are going a little wild – as they often do.
Does it make sense to leave?
Life is making more sense than ever yet here I am leaving Scotland – life has been going about as well as it ever has. So why leave? Does it make sense? No, not to my rational mind-dominated-self.
But I’m not just mind, as I’ve often thought I was. I’m much more than this, and in slowly dis-covering my authentic self through the adventures I’ve had with the people and the land in Scotland I see that I am also a passionate heart that dreams of new possibilities, new ways of being; ways that the mind cannot yet see or grasp.
I need to cycle to Bhutan, it is something I must do, I feel it deep inside me, and I have been sitting with a clarity over this for some time. I haven’t been so clear in my life purpose for a long time, let alone having the courage to step into it. I will go and when I come back perhaps my mind will make sense of it and thank the heart.