Originally posted on August 26, 2013 (Still getting the hang of creating posts!)
I'm sitting on a spacious bed, comfortable and toasty warm in my motel room at Discovery Lodge in Tongariro National Park typing this on my laptop. All feels right with the world. It had rained earlier, even pelted a bit of slush because the air was so cold. But now, the clouds, though still floating above, have broken up to reveal patches of lovely blue sky and the warm rays of a setting sun. The surrounding scenery, formerly cloaked in a blue hue, is now a warm autumny orange.
When people learn I'll be going on vacation. The first question is always, "Where are you going?" The second, "With a friend?" When I say no, four out of five people always ask, "Why?" Inevitably, I shrug my shoulders and say, "Why not?"
Daily life is busy with work, never ending tasks at home and extracurricular activities. So when I travel, I absolutely love my alone time. I do what I want, when I want, and whether I actually do it or not.
Ultimately, time away from the familiar provides personal time and space. I have uninterrupted time to work on the website I just started (and hope you're reading!). I can also toy around with possible story ideas and develop them—or not. I work on my photography, write in my journal to develop a future plan...the list goes on.
I'll agree that traveling by oneself can at times be lonely. There is something to be said for traveling with a friend and creating shared memories; I've experienced my fair share of doing just that. And I wouldn't change any of it since it's actually become a foundation for my solo travels today.
How did I get over my anxiety or hesitation about traveling solo? I started slow. After joining a group for a seminar in San Francisco, I embarked on my own to drive to Los Angeles in order to specifically see an exhibit showing at an art gallery. Sure, I was nervous. But because I was intent on seeing that exhibit, that focus helped to push aside any hesitancy or doubt regarding my ability to do it. What was the worst that could happen anyway? Not seeing the exhibit, certainly. But hey, I was an American on U.S. territory. Everyone around me spoke English, used the same currency, I could buy anything that I ran out of along the way, and if I ended up getting lost, hey, it's all part of the adventure. Plus, most people are nice enough to help me out when asking for directions.
One of my "getting lost" highlights is when I got lost driving from Sedona, AZ to the Grand Canyon. I drove up slowly to a gas station and saw an old truck with the hood open. A cowboy in blue jeans and a white shirt stood on the fender looking down into the engine. He stepped down and happened to look my way. Oh...HELLO. I sort of waved at him with a smile while opening the window. He took off his cowboy hat and ducked to stick his head in my window. He had the most beautiful grey eyes and a nice, deep voice. After that, I was happily on my way! Just goes to show that you never know what kind of encounters you'll have.
Here in New Zealand as well, people have been really nice and happily offered directions; one woman even worried that I wouldn't find the road and thought I should follow her. Her directions were spot on, however, and I made it back to my motel quickly.
Anyway, alone time is precious and necessary. Be by yourself, with yourself and feed yourself with the quiet and tranquility that alone time provides. You and everyone around you will benefit.
As for me, I am at total peace surrounded by the wilds of New Zealand's first national park. Mt. Ruapehu is magnificent as it soars, cloaked in white and capped with clouds, in the distance. It just solidifies within me, the gratitude I have for man's foresight to protect our natural spaces, for Mother Nature's wondrous works and the freedom to travel.
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