“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” ~ Hans Hofmann.

Recently, I returned from a two week trip back to my birth country of Scotland.

I took the trip with my good friend, Sam Fiorella, who had wanted to do this trip for a few years (he was meant to do it two years ago for his 50th birthday).

Given my own 50th is fast approaching this October, I revisited the idea with him, and we took off on an adventure of whisky tasting, scenic views, a trip to his beloved Liverpool FC near the end of the trip, and a stay-over in Amsterdam on the last night.

And it was glorious.

Being able to switch off, and simply view and breathe in the experiences around us, was truly a gift, and one that has created memories that will last a lifetime.

It’s something we don’t do enough of and, watching how those around us in the places we visited lived life, made us both realize how differently life is meant to be enjoyed.

Digital Seconds, Physical Lifetimes

It’s been a while since I was in Scotland and I was originally from Edinburgh, so I was used to busy lives where streets are full, and people have places to go, fast.

It’s not too different from Toronto, where I now work – heads down, feet driving people forward, meetings to make as opposed to conversations.

And I get that. It’s modern life, city style.

But the contrast in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, where Sam and I visited, was marked and welcome.

People ambled along amiably, smiling, nodding acknowledgement, taking life one slow step at a time.

Pubs were full of laughter and faces at once new yet not, as they struck up conversations with us and invited us into their circles.

Strangers became fast friends, and no-one looked at their cell phones. Seriously – not one single time.

Instead of wasting digital seconds, the locals were enjoying physical lifetimes of laughter.

Contentment, easiness around people, and showing how people with no rush to be in the next place lived life in a much happier place than we allow ourselves to in our own everyday lives.

It was almost like being in a place before cell phones, before social media, before always-on became a norm as opposed to an abnormality.

And I loved them for that.

Making Memories More Than Just an Image

This peace, this serenity, left me with an increased desire to at least try and replicate it back home in Canada.

I’ve spoken before about leading meaningful lives, and turning off the overwhelm, and I try my best to switch off where I can for some quality time.

Yet one thing I’ve taken away from the stay in the Scottish Highlands and Islands is this: just switching off only lasts so long. It’s the mindset that has to change.

Enjoying moments for what they are, as opposed to what you pressure yourself to gain from them.

Enjoying people for who they are, as opposed to what you expect to take from them.

Enjoying life for what it is, as opposed to what you’re told it should be for it to mean something.

In short, not thinking of memories of that time in Scotland and how relaxed I felt, but making these memories ones that exist every day because we’re living that ethos of peace, contentment, and appreciation.

No doubt there will be times it’s not possible to do so but, for the most part, it’s easier than we often allow ourselves to believe it is.

We just need to open our eyes and breathe.

If you’d like to view a collection of some of the pictures I took on the trip, including some amazing panoramic views, you can find them here.

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