About 2 ½ years ago, I was offered the gift of a place to stay in Scotland, while I tested the personal and professional waters in this country I’ve long been fond of. A chance to discover whether my long-distance infatuation for it would turn to love once I met it up close. Since then, I’ve gained and lost friends and colleagues, been nearly homeless, invested in Scotland’s ongoing political transformation, helped start an arts organization, translated a few screenplays, done a bit of theatre, planted a garden in the ground for the first time in twenty years, taken an unplanned sabbatical from the arts to learn farming in one of the most beautiful places in the world… and fallen in love with a man with whom I first shared a long distance infatuation with – an infatuation which turned to love once we met up close. And yes, fallen deeply and forever in love with Scotland itself.
My life has always been an incredible adventure, no more so than in the past 2+ years. And all of it has been woven around and through with vast amounts of love.
Love is a funny thing…always there, hovering around us in the form of family, friends, work, play…there are so many different ways it manifests itself in our lives, and yet we so often overlook it in the rush of managing the practicalities of life. Until it knocks us over with such an example of it that we see it everywhere. Even in the mud and manure of a sheep pen. And Scotland has certainly knocked me over.
Every morning when I tend the sheep, I tempt them close with a bit of feed I hold back from the trough. They don’t come to me there until they’ve eaten every bit of dust from the trough…but eventually, after weeks of patience on my side, they amble over. One will now eat from my hand. I’m hopeful for the rest. Yes, I know they’re farm animals, not pets. And one day, they’ll probably be eaten, by us or others. But it hurts nothing and no-one to love them in the meantime. Quite the opposite, in fact. Because, every morning I am paid, in return, with an outstanding view – an external view which nourishes my soul, and which encourages an inward view of the luck and the love I’ve been gifted with in my life. And what I have done to deserve all that love? To deserve it? Nothing at all. To receive it: only had the luck to give and receive it.
Through all my adventures, wherever I’ve gone – through the injuries, laughter, heartaches, failures and successes – love has sustained me, strengthened me, and woven a silver lining through every adventure, no matter where that adventure has taken me. It has encouraged me to grab the luck when it comes along…and survive the lack of it, when it doesn’t. It has made me rich in a way that has nothing to do with the state of my bank account…rich beyond measure. Beyond the distance my eyes can see across these hills called the Highlands.
And so, during this holiday season – whichever holiday you celebrate – when we take time in the midst of the rush to pause and look out over our lives – the best gift I can wish my friends, family and co-adventurers – the most costly, easily given,, and most precious thing I can offer – is a wish for a little luck in your adventures… and love to sustain you, strengthen you, and enrich you beyond measure.
After all, I am only offering the gift you have already given me.