Friday, February 20, 2015

Return to the North Sea...cliffs and caves, and a small digressive vociferation.

The Seaton cliffs, majestic ancient sandstone.
Pssst...before returning to the North Sea, and its cliffs and caves just north of Arbroath, would a small vociferation be permissible? Thank you. :)

Well you see, a young(ish) woman here in Scotland, who shares my vocation, recently spoke to me about this blog. She liked it! I was quite surprised. I have always assumed that members of my vocation may find these little contemplative essays, based primarily on outdoor pursuits just a little, well you know, "fluffy". :) After all, there's serious work to be done in this world. Time on the water, paddling a sea kayak or spending time walking in the hills and mountains, may be seen by some as a misuse of valuable time and energies that would be better spent on addressing the world's ills. And as for living in, and celebrating the moment, well harrumph, that's for children!

There's no question, the world is struggling, in so many ways. A quick look at any newspaper (or many of my colleagues' social networking sites) will provide a detailed account of "what's wrong". What disturbs me is the negativism, cynicism, even anger, that is often expressed on these sites. Strategies for dealing with these serious issues, however, are not so commonly expressed.

Admittedly, we should be angry that so many people are hungry, that most in this world do not have safe water or sanitation facilities, that untold millions are refugees and homeless, that terror continues, and that this fragile island planet is being abused by our wants and desires. BUT, where are the positive action plans expressed? Where is the hopefulness? Where are the inspired words that will move and enthuse action. Where is the confidence that there are sufficient caring people in the world and the resources to deal with these matters. Where is the optimism? Where is the encouragement for those who have the will, to join to together to build a better world for all?

Come on folks, let's get out of the "pity party for the world" mode. We all know the issues. Let's get on with demonstrating, enthusing, and exciting people about how the world could be if we channelled our energies with confidence and hopefulness. Let's model cheerfulness and compassion. When we say that love is more powerful than hate, let's live it. Let's speak with kindness and listen with tenderness...these are far more effective tools for change than grim, cheerless, and dour moaning.

So, after this little vociferation, do I have strategies and solutions for my angst-filled colleagues, here and across the ocean? You bet. First of all, get outside for some fresh air and soak up some vitamin D, in the form of sunshine. "Indoor" living simply isn't healthy. Second, get some regular exercise. That's right, elevate the heart rate a little. You'll feel much healthier, be much more positive, and have infinitely more energy, strength, and resilience for the important work at hand. Thirdly, read the quote from Annie Dillard at the top of this least twice. It leads to better self-care. Without self-care, what's left to give? Who'd have thought it, eh? Finally, take a deep breath, it's not all up to you. You're not alone, we can all work on the world's ills together.

See? Easy peasy. :)

Now, back to the North Sea...

The Seaton Cliffs are, red, ancient sandstone, sea caves, stacks, arches, and blow holes formed by sea erosion. It's a pretty sweet backdrop to a day on the water.

Two favourites of local UK rock climbers: the Deil's Heid (r)
and Granny's Garrett, a sea stack about to be another 1000 years?

There are many caves, and they are accessible if the conditions are perfect...on this day they were.

A trio of caves.
There was hardly a breath of wind, a gentle swell washed up against the sandstone as it has done for a very, very long time.

The north-east edge of the UK.
A rest and relief stop is important every now and again...we found the perfect shingle beach, and a patch of sand and...

A small landing spot near a large cave.
a rather nice cave to explore.

Looking out.
When the tide is high, it's all awash, but for this visit, it was possible to penetrate deep under the walkers on the trail high above us, enjoying the view over the North Sea.

Looking in.
We paddled back out, to take in the long view, it was breathtaking.

Silky water and soft swell.
Nearing Auchmithie, we looked up to the site of an Iron Age clifftop promontory fort, in place perhaps two thousand years ago or more. It must have been a lonely place to live, albeit strategically safe from most invaders from the sea.

Once-upon-a-time settlement.
There was one more special "hideaway" to explore. The conditions were right for a return visit, deep into the earth and under a farmer's the base of the Gaylet Pot, a collapsed sea cave, also known as a "gloup".

See you next time, in the gloup.


  1. Hi Duncan, "vociferation"? Sounds to me like a tiny "rant". Wink, wink! :>) I so know what you're saying.We all try so hard and sometimes it wears us out. As you know, it's "outside" in the mountains that I get restored too. The time away from the responsibilities at hand, gives us strength for them. I got your "subtle" message. :>) Thank you, and take care. Gen.

    1. Hi Gen, thank you for your good thoughts. Yes, it was a tiny rant but I thought it needed to be dressed up with a more descriptive word! ;) Strange isn't it? Most of us take more care to keep our cars fuelled up than ourselves. I think it's why there is so much burn out. Folks have so many gifts to give, but they must maintain their health in order to offer those gifts. Take good care. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  2. Well said in your written words! The pictures are a telling sign of the rewards you can get inside when getting outside. Even if I enjoy this indoors... ;-)

    1. Hi Leif, always great to hear from you. Yes, as you point out, there is a great "return" to taking time away for renewal and re-freshment. That very process ensures balance. It's part of most spiritual traditions, but often forgotten in the rather more popular belief that it is "busyness" that gives life meaning and value. We need to get the reminders out. :) Warm wishes to you. Duncan.

  3. Hello Duncan, I'm forwarding this to a few of my hard-working friends who should be kayaking or hill walking or doing SOMETHING outside. If for no other reason, for their health! Pictures are lovely. Fiona.

    1. Hi Fiona, thank you for that. Lovely pics are sure easy out on the water here, just push the button and presto! :) It sounds like your friends are doing fine work and you are showing your care and concern for them. I do hope they listen. Warm wishes and please come by again. Duncan.

  4. Great post Duncan, and I totally agree about us needing to be inspired to be enthused into action. Looks like it was an amazing day out on the water. It all looks so different from the sea. A different and wonderful perspective on life and on the coastal cliffs!

    1. Ah, thank you, L. You've walked the trail above the cliffs with us, we'd no idea what was below our feet at the time. It's quite marvellous to think about what was so close and yet so far - without these "narrow" boats. :) Yes, life simply has to balance, doesn't it. It's not always easy, I know that...but we have to make the effort. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  5. Very well said Duncan :o)

    I somehow can't associate the word "rant" with you though!..... What an absolutely stunning winter day you were gifted - an excellent "lift" for body mind and soul....

    Best wishes

    1. Haha! Thanks for that, Ian. Me? Rant? Well, um...occasionally, but always with gentleness and grace. ;) It was, indeed, a remarkable February day paddling by the cliffs. I'm stretching it out here but the current forecast for the sea means a bit of waiting to get back on the water. Warm wishes to you and Linda, from Joan and I.

  6. Insightful post. Thank you for being a positive influence in today's world :)

  7. Thank you for that, Adam, and welcome. Being positive can be a default attitude to life...and I find it the most helpful agent of change amidst struggle. "Moaning", however, appears to be rather trendy amongst some these days! ;) Warm wishes. Duncan.