One of the most profound discoveries I came back from our sacred travel tour of Scotland with is the idea of living small. That runs so counter to the western programming of bigger, better, faster. We’re always reaching for higher heights. When you realize how small you are, it’s easy to laugh at that and be content with just being who you are, where you are, and living small.
What does that mean? Consider this. The oldest rocks in Scotland, and some of the oldest rocks in the world, are found in the Outer Hebrides. Lewisian Gneiss are three billion years old. They were once buried deep beneath the surface. They resurfaced about 1000 million years ago. Astounding, isn’t it? You can’t get away from thinking about rocks and the so called permanence of things when you’re surrounded by all the sweeping views.
Amazingly equal to the stunning mountains of Scotland are the waterways. It’s the land of waterfalls, lochs, and sea. All this water erodes all that stone into a hundred million grains of sand. There are fissures and landslides EVERYWHERE. When you see things as mighty and strong as rock being eroded, it can really put you in your place. If rocks don’t last, people are toast!
Skara Brae, the oldest settlement in Scotland, was created around 3180 B.C.E. making this site older than the Great Pyramids of Giza or Stonehenge. People lived here for roughly 600 years. That means that those people have been gone for 4500 years! We can see evidence of who they were and how they lived. Their pottery, jewelry, and tools are interesting, but what do we know of them? What did any one individual contribute? How did one person’s life matter? In the grand scheme of creation, how did any one person make a difference?
Maybe I am just in a mood, but this gets me readjusting my attitude. If I am just a speck in time, then the things I worry about really don’t matter. Everything shifts because the only thing with any lasting value is the love that we give away. The only lasting joy comes from this moment. It makes every ray of sunshine, every smile, every rain drop so precious because in the blink of an eye, it will all be gone.
And guess what? Everything that matters is free. Everything anyone needs to feel love and joy is available. There may be misery and pain within sight as well, but why not see the whole picture and take it all in? Living small makes the big things small and the small things big. That’s such an easier pace and enjoyable way of life.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have your big house, nice car, beautiful wife, fancy job, and comfortable life. It probably just means that you value them less, and value other things more. It means that you might not worry if they were all to vanish, so you can live with less worry and lots more freedom. You can say no more easily to things that don’t really suit you. You can say yes to things like a walk in the woods, singing in the rain, and tea with a friend.
All “this” is going to go away. Sooner than you think. When you live small, the world may not know you’ve been here, but you will.