A month has flown by in the blink of an eye! One might dwell on past experiences to find solace, while another may be forever looking towards the future with excitement and intrigue. Both the past and the future have their proper place in the minds of human beings, but what about the present moment? Working day in and day out at my home university (Furman University) can often feel like a means to an end, with joy only being attained at the end of much toil and drudgery. What if the daily grind could be part of the joy just as much as the end goal? After living in Edinburgh for a month I have realized that mindfulness in the present moment can bring comfort and joy, especially through experiences of nature, interpersonal interaction, and art. From this point on, time will only move quicker every second. By the time I blink my eyes I will be retired, asking myself “where has the time gone”, reminiscing on the good old days living in Edinburgh. Therefore, there is no time like the present to start living mindfully. The most impactful experiences that have enabled me to be more mindful while in Edinburgh were hiking up Arthur’s seat on a beautiful day, meeting amazing individuals at my internship, and browsing the modern art exhibit at Scotland’s Portrait Gallery.
On a crisp, sunny, Saturday afternoon I decided to hike Arthur’s seat with a whole group of amazing individuals. The air was cold and the mud on the ground was frozen. On the walk, I started to focus on the steps I was taking as well as the magnificent view ahead of me, mindful of the trip up. Trying my best to appreciates the journey just as much as the destination. At that time, I thought about my health. How appreciative I was for having working legs that could take me all the way to the top of Arthur’s Seat. I was almost sad to get to the top, knowing that my journey up the mountain was at an end, but as I looked out at the glorious view of creation, I knew that this moment was the only one of its kind. No two moments are the same making me wish that it would never end. Unfortunately, it did come to an end, but I do not regret any part of it. I know that I was as present as I could be in that moment and no one can take that away from me.
Similarly, most of my week I spend time at my internship at the MS Therapy Centre. There, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the most intriguing and caring individuals. They have taught me that no matter what kind of debilitating conditions you may face you can still live your life to the fullest. The conversations I have at my internship never cease to amaze me. Their attitudes have taught me to live more fully, appreciating everything that I have.
While time passed walking down an ordinary road, I stumbled upon the Scottish Portrait Gallery. In the middle of my exploration of the gallery I walked up to the modern portrait section. Looking at all the paintings I was amazed at how an artist can capture the present moment with such precision. Although I can also capture moments with my camera or simply with my two eyes, there is something so special about art. I looked at a painting of an old man, so life like that I stood an inch away from the painting in order to see the brush strokes on the canvas. The artist was capturing his father. An old man, with a wrinkle here, and a spot there, signifying a lifetime of experiences. Experiences and memories that will stick with him for the rest of his life, just like the ones I am making now. Swiveling my head around the gallery I realized that every portrait was unique. That is because every human being is unique and therefore their art is an extension of their very selves. Every individual has their own perception of the present, which only they can see and these artists capture exactly that. When I am old and wrinkly, I will look back fondly on my experiences in Edinburgh and how they shaped me to live more presently.
One might very well argue that I could have experienced an epiphany through hiking table rock NC, volunteering at a local charity, or going to an art gallery. It might be true, but I think that the way Edinburgh looks and feels different from any other city I have been to makes it special. Maybe it is because I know I only have a few months to take everything in. Or maybe I am just transfixed by Edinburgh’s charm. These experiences were merely opportunities for self-awareness and personal enlightenment. It may well be that some of the greatest enlightenment thinkers were influenced by events and realizations in their life that occurred in this exact same city. Although I may not become an enlightenment figure like Francis Hutcheson or Adam Smith, I know that I want to live in the present, whether it be good or bad because I know that every second of my time on earth shapes me into the person that I am meant to be.
Sarah Gibson, Furman University Class of 2019 (Edinburgh, Spring 2018)