An Outdoorsy New Year

Still ringing in the new year? Mine involved a long drive to a desert oasis, spending a week escaping from the hustle-bustle of “holiday returns season” and “every one going to the gym” season. It was full of song, campfire, climbing and champagne.

New Year’s is such a strange holiday; I’ve never much liked the wild urban New Year’s Eve party. There’s too much pressure to make New Year’s epic, when the reality has been as follows: too many times I’ve found myself overly imbibed, the person I’ve been waiting to kiss is suddenly absent (or the kiss isn’t as perfect as my hopeful drunken self had imagined) and the nagging voice of reflection and future planning drones throughout my head while the minutes til midnight slowly tic-tock away. Either that, or it’s wildly uneventful.

The past two years, I’ve fled the city to be amongst old and new friends outside and have not regretted the outdoor New Year’s decision, despite it being a frigid evening huddled in puffy jackets with an unabashed use of disposable handwarmers.

What is it about being outside that makes New Year’s so great? On a night where most headspace is either reflecting on the past year or jumping to the next, nature makes you stay present. It’s cold– move to the campfire, grab a glass of mulled wine. I’m lonely–chime in and sing with the goofballs to the right. I’m tired– the tent is ten steps away. Where do I fit into this world? Look at the stars and feel a little bit better about relative insignificance. I’m restless- go for a run or climb something. I’m hungry– light up your stove, or throw something into the fire. What’s the meaning of life? Again, consult stars, trees, rocks or a new friend for an ephemeral, existential conversation til you both need to go get warm again.

Outdoors, choices are simpler because they have clear results or repercussions. I’ve come to believe that creating a better life for myself means simplifying. Like working with a group on an outdoor trip, it’s figuring out core values, aligning actions and re-aligning reactions. Like packing a backpack, it’s asking for what I need, questioning what I want and the impact those wants will have. Like racking gear, it’s picking the pieces in life that will keep me safe and back me up in hard times. It’s staying true to the dork within and being unashamed of using three ridiculous metaphors in the last paragraph.

Every trip outside sets a precedent for how I wish to live amongst urban distractions. It’s a wonderful precedent for the year to come, and I only need to get outdoors to remember it’s importance.

So from my heart to yours, get out! Even if it’s cold and less than welcoming. Grab your best friends, a bottle of wine and those vegan, gluten-free granola bars (hey, I understand it’s resolution season) and head to the hills.

It’s going to be a happy new year.

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