Do You Want to Be Alive Before You Die?

Open your eyes before they close forever

John P. Weiss


Photo by John P. Weiss

Take a close look at the above photo.

You’ll notice people huddled together in the back of the boat, balancing as best they can in choppy waters. They’re about to disembark onto the Isle of Staffa, located in the Inner Hebrides of Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

The Isle of Staffa contains six-sided columns of towering rock formed from basalt. A dramatic rocky mouth, known as Fingal’s Cave, swallows sea water and lures intrepid hikers.

Below is a short video I shot while exploring the island.

In spring and early summer, the jagged cliffs and grass-lined slopes serve as nesting sites for seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, and puffins. While people no longer live there, local tour guides and their sturdy boats offer regular field trips to the Isle of Staffa.

Navigating the rocky shore (as wind and sea water pelt your face), climbing the steep stairs to the verdant ridges high above, and gazing out at the immense power and grandeur of the wild ocean, awaken all your senses.

You can’t help but feel alive.

I could offer many explanations for why my wife and I were there, exploring the island and greater Scotland. We both enjoy travel, and the chance to experience foreign lands, peoples, and customs. We needed a vacation, after a year of monastic living thanks to a worldwide pandemic.

But if you want the truth, there’s just one explanation. One simple thing that brought us to the amazing people, places, and wonders of Scotland. What was it?

A book.

Paradise will be a kind of library

My wife and I are both bibliophiles.

We love books. We love the way books feel, smell, and inspire us. We have a large library at home, and we think any date night should include a bookstore visit.



John P. Weiss

I write stories and essay about life, often illustrated with my photography and artwork.