Why am I running? I keep asking myself this every time I step out the door for my daily jog. As I weave through the middle of the meadows in Edinburgh, I keep asking myself this. I know this isn’t where I belong; I am supposed to be at the pub or playing video games while eating fish and chips, so why am I running? As I make my first turn a few miles out, I see Arthur’s Peak shadowing over Edinburgh and for the first time that I can remember, the beauty of the world blinds me.
As I departed for Scotland, I left two things at home. First, my razor. There would be no shaving for the next four months, much to the displeasure of my family. The second was the idea of where I fit in the world. Since I began high school, I have been running around filling my time with different activities and events, but I wanted this semester to be different. I wanted to be able to mold this experience as it went, and develop a new view on life. It might be the beard talking, but I feel like a whole new man.
This became clear to me as I made my way up to the Highlands, home of every stereotypical Scottish concept. In the time it takes to drive from my hometown in Iowa to Gustavus, I quickly found myself in the deep and mystical valleys of the highlands. From beautiful mountains, to vast lochs, the highlands have a little bit of everything. But, what would a trip be to the highlands without visiting Loch Ness to say hello to Nessie?
As the boat departed from what was the cheesiest gift shop in the world, I looked around and found myself amazed that beauty like this existed in the world. To me, it was always just something you saw in Game of Thrones or in old fishing videos, but for the first time I am aghast by what I was taking in. My initial instinct was to reach for my trusty iPhone camera and start snapping away. Then I looked at the screen and realized it doesn’t even begin to capture the beauty. I found that to be the perfect excuse to unplug myself from the world, put my phone back in my bag and just took in the sights.
Cruising along the loch, I looked at all of the small cottages and ruins that were scattered around and was amazed that people actually live here. Again it might have been the beard talking, but at the moment I just wanted to stay there and live off the land, fulfilling my lumberjack alter ego. Where has this beauty been my whole life? I have fallen in love with the natural world around me and am so mad that I am just starting to see it. I know that the views and scenery here are breathtaking, but I know it isn’t just here. I know that there is beauty everywhere in the world, and it is just a matter of finding a way to unplug from my busy life to take a deep breath of fresh air and experience something new.
I quickly found myself back in Edinburgh, but that doesn’t mean I will lose this sense of beauty in the world. I know it is surrounding me. Now when I step outside and ask why I am running, I simply look at the beauty around me. I keep pushing myself to find that next beautiful view, in the distance and make my way there, as much as my calves hate me for it. When I get to the top of a peak and see the view I just take it in. Just my beard and the beauty of the world, what else could I ask for? Oh yeah! Beer, and there is plenty of that here.