Big Daddy Bo took some time out recently for a road trip into nature with some of his boys. I shook up my regular routine and came back with some fresh perspective on shit.
Yes, I went up to the Scottish Highlands for a few glasses of top quality whisky and a browse at some of the scenery. I shut down the engines for a while and took a look at things from a different angle. And what it did was reaffirm for me the importance of breaking routine and smelling the roses – it’s something we should all do a lot more of.
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie
I have grown up living life to a series of deadlines. And I’m not alone in that. We rush from one panic to another; one project to another; one deadline to another.
It’s travelling from A to B via the quickest route. And we make big sacrifices to get there. We try to cut corners and we get tunnel vision – we don’t see the bigger picture.
How many times have you wished your life away so you can get through things? Saying things like:
“I wish this week was over”
“Roll on 5pm so I can get out of here”
“I can’t wait until next year”
In those few days in the Scottish wilderness it hit me: Nature doesn’t panic. Nature doesn’t rush. There are no projects or deadlines. Nature just is.
Nature is present just as I should be.
Everything in nature happens in its own time and while I was reflecting on this in Scotland, the importance of yesterday and tomorrow shrank. There was only now and I appreciated that fact a lot more than I normally do when I’m entrenched in my regular routine.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life in the Highlands is very different to that in London or any other city. It’s a slower pace. More simple – and I don’t mean that negatively. The unnecessary complications of urban living are not there. And it feels more real – more authentic.
Everything in its own time – the natural world has composure and patience.
But it’s a way of life that has been lost or forgotten by most of us. Rediscovering what living like this feels like reawakens our instinctive masculine core and cuts away all the bullshit that’s shoved down our throats every day.
“The earth has music for those who listen.” – George Santayana
We have over-complicated things and the truly essential skills and knowledge that we need as men has been buried under this pile of bullshit.
Think of the Signal to Noise ratio (SNR). It’s a measure used to compare the level of desired signal to the level of unwanted background noise. Modern lifestyles are mostly noise – things that don’t REALLY matter. Not really.
Does it really matter that you used inconsistent fonts in your powerpoint presentation to the CEO?
Does it really matter that a potential honey flaked on you at the last minute?
Does it really matter that you missed out on tickets to the big Champions League game?
All these things, essentially, are noise. And there is so much of it in our lives that we have to listen REALLY hard to hear the signal.
While there, we rented a place beside Loch Sunart that had a wooden balcony overlooking the water. I sat out there one night with a large glass of whisky. There was no traffic, no people and no noise. And as the stars wheeled in the sky the only sounds were from the occasional bird or fish splashing in the water. Everything felt like signal and it was much easier to hear.
There’s something to be said about a tall glass of whisky, time and silence.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. – John Lubbock
When I was 11 I received a great piece of advice that I never forgot – “Enjoy life, but don’t be afraid to smell the roses once in a while.”
The older I get, the more that advice rings true. But just like a river, the skill is to continually move forward. Smelling the roses is like when that river slows down in a large pool. It slows down…but it does not stop.
Reflect on the past, but don’t live there. Slow down…but don’t stop. Remember and learn…then move on. Don’t get sentimental or nostalgic. The river can only flow one way.
“We must constantly look at things in a different way.” John Keating – Dead Poets’ Society
Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society passed on some fierce wisdom to his students. He encourages the boys in his class to constantly look at things in a different way, demonstrating this by standing on his desk in order to see the classroom from a different angle.
That’s what I did – except that before I stood on my desk, I took it into the Scottish wilderness and set it in between some Highland cows and a shitload of nature.
“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic.” – George Carlin
So that’s it. I went on a short break, broke my regular routine for a while and got a different perspective. And looking at things from a different angle helped me see and understand the importance of the Iron Qualities even more clearly.
You are alive. Smell the roses. Constantly question yourself, where you are and where you’re going.
Don’t just live to work. Don’t just serve. Don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the empty promises. You are not a cog. You are not a machine. You are a person. You are alive. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Don’t just serve. Go out and live. Live deep and suck the marrow out of life.