Thursday, October 11, 2012

Being "still' long enough...and just in time.

You only need sit still long enough 
in some attractive spot in the woods 
that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.
- Henry David Thoreau

I must confess, the idea of "sitting still" is one that doesn't usually hold much appeal. That's mainly because I often (wrongly) associate sitting with lethargy. That's not very fair and clearly sitting, taking time out, can encourage "being", something we maybe all need to nurture in our sometimes frenetic and fast-paced lives. I think when Thoreau spoke of sitting still, he was also talking about being still. There is a place for both.

Having made that admission, some of the most positive and uplifting people I've known over the years take great pleasure in movement - movement, under their own steam. But these same folks also know how to stop every now and again and take notice of the natural world they are moving through. Clearly, to do so is to be greatly rewarded - as Thoreau suggests, when we pause to take it all in, nature connects and introduces herself.

Veteran rock star, Neil Young, was quoted in a recent edition of the New York Times saying, "I've always been better moving than I am standing still." Me too, Neil. I think that's why self-propelled movement, whether it's walking, running, paddling, not only key to good health but also to good thoughts, and good vibes. But pausing, amidst movement, brings wonderful gifts.

Yesterday, we walked once again from Arbroath to Auchmithie. Today, we walked from Arbroath to Carnousti, another Scottish seaside village - where there is a rather well known golf course. On both walks, we made sure to take time to pause, even sit. Some refer to the experience as, "smelling the roses". The following simple images are of a few wild flowers, plants, beach pebbles, and two adorable sheep. To use Thoreau's words, they all did "exhibit themselves to (us) by turns". And we were the richer for it.

As I write this, the darkness has come in Scotland. Stormy winds from across the North Sea are blowing sheets of rain sideways. Mighty waves are crashing against the harbour walls - our "hatches" are battened down for the night. Some of the flora in the images above will have now washed away, the stones are all deep beneath the high tide, and the sheep will have found safe shelter. 

It was good that we "paused" when we did.



  1. Hi D & J
    Love the colour and patterns in the stones there. Certainly don't get that vibrant red over here.
    You know us folks that like to "sit and just "be" may not always be the most uplifting and positive people but hey we've got our own strengths! :)
    Enjoyed the blog and pics.

  2. Thank you for that, L. And my apologies as I didn't mean to suggest, in any way, that those who have gifts of quiet contemplation are not uplifting. Thoreau was one such person and he is greatly uplifting and positive. Sometimes (probably often) my words don't express exactly what they are intended to express. And, admittedly, I need to learn to "be" still. :) Duncan.

  3. Great images of the amazing pebbles of the Angus coast - hope you managed to batten down before the forecast heavy rain!

    Kind Regards

  4. D, I was just trying to tease you a bit from across the water. What you have said is very true and I do think it is important to find balance between stillness and movement. I have to agree with you about those who do find pleasure in movement. People who are active are more physically fit and healthier and therefore are happier, giving off more positive energy. Mindful meditation in movement could be just as helpful as "sitting meditation" I suppose.
    Happy travels and can you bring a red stone home with you?

  5. Hi Ian,

    We sure did batten down last night and then today went out on the roads only to find some closed due to flooding. Fields also were filled with water and streams full and raging...a dramatic change in weather from the last week. The pebbles are indeed, amazing. Looking at the cliffs, it's easy to visualize how many of the rocks eroded out of them, becoming the beach. (I think.) It must be a paradise here for a geologist - wish I knew more! Many thanks for your comment. Duncan.

    Hi L,

    I need folks like you to keep me in line! Haha. You'd like a red stone, eh? I'm sure it would be OK to bring one home - each is a small natural wonder. Quite astonishing really. D.

  6. Wonderful photos and thoughts from someone so obviously at one with God's creation. 'This is my own, my native land' (Sir Walter Scott)