Monday, March 02, 2015

No drama...just a quiet, reflective walk on the Fife Coastal Path.

Proudly Scottish rocks, albeit under a weathered flag...looking out to the Isle of May.
We took a walk the other day, no drama, hardly any elevation gained, no summit or trig point to achieve...just a gentle coastal walk. Life can get busy, there is so much to do, so many commitments to meet, expectations to satisfy...sometimes you just have to "walk" away from it all, if only for just a few hours.

I didn't always do that.

When I was much younger, I bought into the silliness that a person's value was in their perceived "busyness". You know, the so-called "Protestant work ethic" - the sociological and theological rubbish that many of us grew up with in Western society. It was the idea that the harder we work, the more hours we put it, the closer we "keep our nose to the grindstone" (gee, that's gotta hurt!), then the greater our value. Once, I even left the lights on in my office, as proof to any who might pass by that I was "working around the clock". Impressive huh? Not.

This "work" ethic may have birthed capitalism, for what that's worth, but it plays havoc with short-term memory, cardiovascular health, problem-solving abilities, and concentration. It provides easy excuses not to exercise (who's got time eh?), maintain sensible body weight, or make healthy food choices. It raises blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and increases the stress response in dramatic enough ways to invite deeper and even catastrophic illness. Further, the need to be seen to be busy denies the opportunity to be reflective, pensive, thoughtful, and contemplative. And of all human activities, perhaps, these are  the most elegant, refined, and life-giving.

So, when the going got "busy", we knew we needed to get going...for a reflective walk.

The Fife Coastal Path is right on our doorstep. The Scottish king, James VI, described Fife as "a beggar's mantle, fringed with gold." 

The "fringe of gold".
The "gold" was the string of charming fishing villages along the coast of this former Pictish kingdom.

In most ways that matter, I think we already are free.
The Path runs from the Forth Bridge to the Tay Bridge and offers walkers 117 miles of coastal bliss.

The Firth of Forth Monster?
The route is clearly waymarked and can be done in one multi-day stretch or in "bits and bites". We took a tiny bite...with more to come.

Gorse has a distinct "coconut" scent - but not at this time of the year.
On this day, we decided to walk from St. Monan's, through Pittenweem, to Anstruther.

Anstruther in colour.
We could have run the six kilometres in no time at all...but we took three hours to walk this very short distance.

A wall of shells.
This was, after all, a reflective walk.

Another wall: nature transitions into human handiwork.
Time slowed down, distance became meaningless...all that mattered was each individual moment...and neither of us was counting.

A box of chips...the perfect end to a reflective walk along the Fife Coastal Path.
Maybe one day, just one day, we human beings will pause long enough to take the time to enjoy this elegant avocation. It is an exercise and a discipline that both grounds us, and gives us wings. No drama, just gentle reflection.


  1. Hi Duncan, sometimes a break from drama is a good thing! :>) Reflective walks are like a "mini vacation" for me. Walk on! Gen.

  2. Thank you for that, Gen. You're right. Sometimes we try way too hard to make everything an "epic" adventure. It's the gentle and reflective walk that often hits the spot. :) Warm wishes. Duncan.

  3. Lovely D & J, the East Neuk's a wonderful stretch of coast whether on foot or from the sea. The "epic adventure" to be had on that walk is managing to consume a whole portion of Anstruther fish and chips if I remember correctly! :o)

    Best wishes

    1. Haha! Right you are, Ian. We've only ever managed to split a fish supper in Anstruther - it's rather legendary. Looking forward to seeing it all from the sea one day. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  4. Wonderful reading and thoughts too! We better keep on walking and paddling in an enjoyable pace.
    Then you're better off noting details in the surroundings as well.

    1. Hi Leif, thanks so much for your kind words. We'll all definitely keep on doing these things...and absorbing all the beauty around us, here, and in your very special part of the world. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  5. A good reminder to take time to just enjoy our surroundings AND now I know where my memory and brain has's gotten lost in the busyness of church life! Ah the fish and mouth is sad its just a long long flight :)

    1. Hi L, that's right, it'll do it every time. :) You may remember that is where you ate a WHOLE portion of fish and chips last June..while I only ate half. Haha! I know, you took it home, and finished it the next day. Just teasing you. ;) Warm wishes. Duncan.

  6. Ya and weren't you jealous when I sat down to eat the rest of my fish n chips for lunch the next day and you had to have something else :)) Okay we need to stop talking food...this is not helping here!
    Love the pics along the're so lucky!!!!

    1. Jealous? Nope, I just ate my salad and smoked tofu and then took my trim, youthful body for an afternoon run. Just teasing!!! Of course I was jealous. :) Duncan.