Did you catch the Super Blood Wolf Moon this weekend? I stood outside in the freezing cold to watch and photograph with my dad the “rare” event (I don’t think it was really that rare but I won’t get into that). And I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my dad enjoying our shared hobby of photography. But just because you love spending time with others doesn’t mean you can’t love spending time alone.
New Year’s Eve is the biggest party night of the year, and yet I chose to ring in 2019 alone. Actually, I didn’t really ring it in on New Year’s Eve. I was fast asleep by 10 p.m. But I did bring in 2019 while watching the sun rise over the desert. That is a moment I will always cherish.
There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness is something we fear. It is something we try to avoid and pity others who experience it. Solitude is something we seek out. It is a treat and something we crave.
A good friend of mine also spent New Year’s Eve alone, only unlike my solitude watching the sunrise in the desert, she was alone in the hustle and bustle of New York City. But she enjoyed herself just as much as I did.
When she told me her plans to travel to New York City on New Year’s Eve alone, I thought, “That sounds amazing!” She had recently been through a big life change and to me, the thought of spending time alone to contemplate what is important to me sounded so refreshing.
Although I haven’t been through a big life change lately, talking with my friend sealed my plans to travel solo somewhere new and unknown. And spending time alone on New Year’s Eve, one of the biggest social holidays, greatly appealed to me.
I wanted to get away, clear my head, and explore somewhere new. I searched the internet for somewhere within a day’s drive that was different from my home surroundings. Seminole Canyon State Park on the southern border of Texas, can up in my search and it was perfect.
Yup, you read that right. I traveled to the US/Mexican border to camp and spend time in the wilderness alone.
“How can you feel safe going to the border alone. The cartel kidnaps people for ransom all the time there,” my sister texted. Well, you can’t trust the sensational Netflix docudrama you just watched, sister. I did my research and it’s not unsafe to travel to Seminole Canyon State Park. It’s in the middle of nowhere. There are park rangers and camp hosts all around and a Border Patrol checkpoint station within spitting distance.
On New Year’s Eve day, I hiked a seven-mile loop which took me to the Rio Grande – the US/Mexican border. I sat on the bluffs over the river, ate my lunch, and loved spending time alone. The sky was the deepest blue, and the cliffs showed their best colors in the sunlight. There was a slight chill in the air. It was just the right temperature to sit and soak up the sun’s warmth, but without getting hot.
My dog, Caddie, took a nap, and I thought she had a good idea. I made a pillow out of my pack and simply enjoyed the time to myself, the sunshine, and the view. This is solitude, not loneliness.
I finished the hike having even more amazing views. And when I got back to camp, ate my dinner, and got ready for bed. The deep blue sky turned to a blanket of stars. I crawled into my sleeping bag, read my book, and was out way before midnight. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.