If you want to contemplate silence and solitude, just look at The Cullin Hills, or The Cullins as they are called, which we passed on our way to Portree. Actually they are mountains--huge, grey, lifeless mounds, often cloud-covered, and definitely not climbable, although people make attempts to hike among them and along their bases. Fifteen years ago I hiked a few miles along Glen Sligachan toward Loch Coruisk , and I may just do it again this trip. It’s on my list.
So, what compels me to return to see these hills (this is my seventh time), and to wander about their base once again? After all, they suggest the antithesis of the silence and solitude I cherish. For me, silence may not include words or speaking, but it often embraces the muffled, quiet sounds of nature; silence definitely doesn’t mean there is no sound at all. The Cullins, however, feel dead, lifeless; they have no sound. As for solitude, I believe that solitude embraces aloneness, not loneliness. And yet, The Cullins exude loneliness.
“Why go?” I ask myself. I don’t have the answer, but I do sense that there is something deep and honest for me to discern from these ominous hills. Maybe I’ll discover it on my hike. Maybe not.
Actually the hike is among rocks, heather, streams, where life thrives, where birds chirp. The Cullins are always in the distance. Of course, that’s where the discovery is to be made, in the in-between places! Worth a try on the next sunny day.
(This is a view of Portree. The bus was going too fast for me to snap any of The Cullins. You’ll have to wait until my hike.)