“Are you sure you don’t have drugs in your car?” The border guard piped. “That’s hard for me to believe.”
Now I’m sweating.
“Of course not…would you like to see my photos?” I stuttered.
“Yes, I would.”
I stared in unbelief as he scrolled through my photos for what felt like a very long minute. Is it really that odd to go out alone?
…and then he let me go.
Let’s rewind to how I got to this epic end.
Last weekend I decided to do an impromptu hop over the border for a soul(o) adventure.
I can’t say exactly what moment I decided to go, but I had it moving in my mind all morning. My car was ready (as it usually is on any given weekend), and I said yes to this idea living in my head. I camped in a beautiful spot and hiked a mountain all by my lady lonesome, and loved it. Everyone was busy with family Thanksgiving plans, and I didn’t think that was a good enough reason to sit at home and watch Netflix.
Apparently, this is an odd thing to do. So far, the border patrol, Trader Joe’s clerk and Fred Meyer firewood lady have all asked me if I’m scared. That itself was actually an odd thought to me.
Sitting slouched in my camp chair, gently grasping a mug filled with wine, fire crackling, I realized that I was absolutely not afraid of people or animals. This was exactly what my soul needed.
If there’s a place I feel one hundred percent at home it’s the open road and outside under the stars. Maybe it’s the wind pushing my hair around my face, or the sounds of crashing waves as I shut my eyes. The trees, skies, waters and roads lead me home every time… and it’s where I need to be to get clear.
The word solitude used to freak me out.
I associated it with forced loneliness – and if you know me, you know full well that people are my jam. As I age and my perspective shifts on the journey of life itself, I’m finding the peacefulness of solitude something I crave.
When I was little girl I remember packing my bags several times, venturing off to the tree fort I had built in the forest that lined the river behind our house. There I would plan and plan my adventurous escape, until about supper time when mom would call out and I would go inside. I was hungry. But believe me – I was ready to go.
Sitting at the crackling fire, navigating my mind was the true struggle of being in solitude. Making my way through memories, ideas and fears occupied so much space as i sat there silently, but it’s as if I wasn’t alone – I was having a conversation with myself about the past, present and future.
The very place I needed to get lost in my thoughts and sort them out was in the wilderness, listening to waves hit the shore (sipping some two buck chuck).
After clearing my conscience and having a few heated conversations with my mind, no external opinions interjecting, it was like everything suddenly felt clear. A heaviness was lifted off my shoulders.
Sometimes you have to go at it alone to discover things about yourself and simplify the world around you. I’m aware that I’m more attentive, a better listener, a kinder human, and less self-concerned when I’m off on my own. I forgot how great it was to hang out with myself. In that moment I learned to love myself and all of the awesome things I have to offer just a little more. Honestly, we all need more of that self-love.
That’s where it all starts. For me, for you, for every human under the sun.
Solitude helps us to be in reflection of ourselves. We have to like who we are, because the latest story story there is that we’re with ourselves for a very long time. What I found slouching beside the fire was that by inviting all of the thoughts to come and sit for a while, hashing out their tenancy in my head, I freed myself to create space for better thoughts to call home.
No, I’m not scared to be out there. I’m inspired, and full of life.
Questions. Where I will go. What will I become. Where will the road lead me?
I can’t answer for the future – but as I dive into unknown land of clear-headed opportunity, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that the company I keep in my soul is good.
The journey of solitude is rewarding. It’s full of self-discovery and appreciation for every moment that’s shaped you into exactly who you’ve become, and gives you the authority to shape the thoughts you keep for the future.
Solitude, I’m not afraid of you. I crave you.