I have known this since I was a small child.
A big landscape helps to put the human being into their proper and defined space.
I think, as humans, we can get a wee bit carried away with our own lives. This can have a tumbling effect as it gathers pace and the small detail become larger and larger in our heads until it is all a bit overwhelming. Ever since my parents first took me in a car journey to Switzerland I have know the importance of perspective. Travelling through the mountainous landscape in the back of a volvo my worries and problems seem to ebb away. This is a realisation that I have always carried with me. This is why I was drawn to Perthshire – the big country.
A chance of a relaxing spa break in Perthshire was snapped up and eagerly awaited in the full knowledge that things would begin to slot back into their proper place and a sense of calm would begin to linger. This lingering calmness was much needed as my head began the process of shuffling and sorting. When walking out in Perthshire you are immediately aware of how small you are. The trees tower above you and the mountains stretch as far as you can see. In these times you reaffirm your understanding of your own worth. I am but one small person and my life is but one small contribution. The problem I have is that I can get very caught up in the horrors of the world as much of my work is with charities. I love this work and it defines me but it is not easy. From time to time I feel disconnected from the world that has taken shape in my mind and I need to shake loose. The other problem I have is work. I have worked hard since I was a small child and I am not very good at not working hard. It has become a life long bad habit. I am fortunate that I live on a beautiful Scottish island that helps with a natural counter-balance. However home is home wherever you live and as I work from home it is not difficult to see the problem.
The net result of these two problems is that I hold on too tightly and my breaths become shallow and my eye lids fail to lift. I cease to see the immediate and the imagined begins to dominate. But in a landscape such as Perthshire the sorting begins first as my head begins to rid itself of the unnecessary and the remainder is then shuffled into a sensible and quite natural order.
This is what I mean about ‘shifting perspectives’. ‘Shifting perspectives’ is a necessary process for me and my wee break away from daily reality in a landscape that knows its place has served me well. Walking in this landscape has reminded me of not only my smallness but also my vulnerability. It has reminded me of the need to protect myself and to surround my being with things that aid wellbeing and a considered sense of bliss.
On this trip I have been fascinated by water. We have walked alongside rivers that flow from a loch and others that flow into lochs. We have stood next to waterfalls that tumble in their own sense of time and space. We have woken to a land frozen by a beautiful crisp snow cap and, a few days later, a torrent of melt waters charging towards the loch as if it’s life depended on it. That power serves to remind us of the place of water and that takes me full circle to the communities I know of in the world that struggle to have enough water. I can’t wave a magic wand and make it better for them but I can continue to do all I can to help. If water be the basis of life itself I need to remember how complex these lives can be. My work with so many charities over the years has been about making others live a better life. Each stage of my ‘witness to water’ this week has led me to different thinking and my reminded me of what I do know and what I do do. I do not often listen to the news or read a newspaper as I know much of this to be grossly inaccurate. My own research and professional relationships has painted a much more accurate and clearer picture. The torrents witnessed at the end of the week signified the war zones on this planet we call home. The fact that war and torment echo around the world still defeats me sometimes. The overwhelming sense of helplessness.
But the water tipping over the edge to freedom, as signified by the emerging waterfall, is where the escape lies. For me these are the refugees. The people that flee all that they know for an uncertain future in an alien place with a terrifying journey in between. The great lochs are the places of depth. This, for me, signified all the people I have worked with where that very depth is destroying them. Their minds are confused and their sense of being has left them. The fear in their eyes never leaves you.
So, I have witnessed much and done my small deeds to help and that is it – no more and no less. I will remember my brushes with water this week and be grateful that the icy snow fell and turned a murky winter’s day into a crisp white wonderland where we were all protected. Thank you beautiful Perthshire – you have taught me much. xx