Saturday, May 17, 2014

Paddle strokes to a place of days of future past...

A Scottish-Canadian returns home to paddle.
It was an otherworldly, but warm feeling, paddling beneath the ruins of Findlater Castle on the north shore of Aberdeenshire. The gentle swell on the Moray Firth eased and transported the willing mind and imagination to another time. Reliable records suggest that this lonely, rocky promontory has been occupied by a fortified castle for some 800 years.

800 years - a wink of an eye really, and yet in terms of the relative brevity of the human lifespan, it is a distant time.

Eight centuries ago, someone had an idea...a dream, a vision. Plans for the future were laid, a castle was built. As times and circumstances changed, as they always do, it was further fortified in anticipation of Norse invaders. Eventually defeated, the Vikings left these magnificent shores but it is known that they occupied the castle for a period of time.

Work began again on Findlater in the 1450's by the Ogilvy family - another dream, a vision, with hopes for the future. A century later, there was another invasion, and the castle changed ownership - forcibly. Sir John Gordon had his own plans and dreams, and set about to see them to fruition. And then, yet another attack, this time by the forces of Mary Queen of Scots. The battle-weary fortification was subsequently returned to the Ogilvy's. Perhaps tired of it all, they abandoned the castle...for something more upscale, more contemporary, and less beset by enemy forces. In their new "digs", in Cullen, life carried on...

Paddling beneath these ruins, it was easy to reflect upon my own plans and dreams, hopes and visions of the past 60+ years. Many have come to be. Some have had to be reluctantly and gracefully (well, not always gracefully) given up. Still others have taken their place in life's "re-cycle / re-use / re-purpose" bin, always ready for renewal or renovation when the timing is right. (That's about the only DIY project that I am ever successful at!)

It has been a dream, for a very long time, to return to this place of birth to live and work, reconnect and engage in meaningful ways with others - and, of course, to explore and discover a mysterious and beautiful land.

The tenacious, lingering, and starkly beautiful ruins of Findlater Castle are a reminder that every dream may be subject to changing times and circumstances. That's the very nature of life on this marvellous planet. We must not be anxious about that, however, for it's only the present that matters -  and to do all that we can to ensure that it is well lived. As the Sanskrit proverb reminds us, "today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

We will, therefore, savour with a deep sense of gratitude, the present moment in this very special place, and all that it makes possible.


Image above: Courtesy of Ian at Mountain and Sea Scotland.


  1. Hi Duncan, I like your idea of life's triple "r" bin. Sometimes our dreams just need to wait for their time to come due. And I LOVE old castles! :>) Gen.

  2. I think you're so right, Gen, and the important ones usually do come way or another. Yes, castles, and each one is magical, with a grand tale to tell. :) Thanks and best wishes from us. Duncan.

  3. Wonderful photo, great quote. Greetings from Montreal.

  4. Hi Linda, so nice to hear from Montreal. Thank you for your thoughtful words, The essence of the proverb means a great deal to me too and living by it makes such a difference in life. I visited your is filled with words of kindness - you made my day. Best wishes from Scotland.