Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seeking Solitude: Dirty Hippies in the Desert

The last few years I have found it harder to escape the insanity of the fast-moving human race, especially in Southern California. The overbuilding and swelling population is putting a big squeeze on the remaining open spaces and nature in general. Even in my cul-de-sac, which just a few years ago was quiet, has elevated noise levels these days, which, for someone who works at home, can be maddening.

My boyfriend and I try to escape all the noise when we can, such as camping or going for a hike in the mountains or desert. We avoid camping on Friday and Saturday nights and on holidays since the masses tend to flock to campgrounds during those times, stock full of alcohol and rowdy behavior. 

Recently,  we made the short two-hour drive to the Anza Borrego Desert for a day/overnight trip, knowing that most of the weekend warriors would be leaving for their 9-to-5 jobs and to get the kids to school the next day. The great thing about the 600,000-acre Anza Borrego Desert is you can pretty much open camp anywhere, which means AWAY from people. Since our time was limited, however, we camped in the most convenient campground, which only had a handful of people. We even found a spot away from everyone. 
As soon as we got settled, we headed for the trail. Aside from the few passersby who we exchanged short pleasantries with, it was pretty quiet. I had found the solace I had been longing for. I even had to stop a few times on our hike to listen to the sound of “nothing.” It was glorious. We even enjoyed a rare sighting of one of the park’s big horn sheep. What an amazing sight. At the end of our trail we enjoyed the lush, tropical palm canyon and waterfall.

As the remarkable full moon rose over our campsite that night, the only sounds we heard were the howling of a ravenous pack of coyotes and the crackling of our fire. The stillness overnight was a Godsend.

I woke up to a beautiful and peaceful sunrise and was just getting our coffee ready when I heard the disruptive sounds of garbage trucks and beeping of construction equipment in the nearby town. My heart sunk and I began to cry. “I can’t even have peace and quiet for a full day,” I said.  My boyfriend suggested we pack up and move to a different part of the park. Instead, I toughed it out and several minutes later the commotion had subsided. We ate our breakfast and headed back out to the trail for one last short hike before hitting the road to the hustle and bustle of our hometown.
Once we hit the trail, I realized once again that silence really is golden.  Although I almost let the nearby construction noise ruin my morning, I was quickly reminded that there was a “quiet escape” nearby on the trail. The further we walked the further away from “civilization” we got and the more content I felt.
It reminded me of a quote I saw in the park’s visitor’s center: "Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it." ~Thomas Merton, monk

On our drive home, I thought about that quote and made a mental note to remind myself of that every time my stress and annoyance levels begin to rise due to all the “noise” around me. There are always “peaceful” places to escape – you just have to find them, or create them yourself, even if it means taking a sea salt bath with the windows closed and the fan on to block out any interruptions.  

I am thankful for the little solitude I did find in the desert and will hold onto that until I can go back for more.

No comments:

Post a Comment