For a long time, my New Year’s Eve celebration involved shoving live music into my ears at a kick-off hosted by the latest local hip band, or sitting around a big screen with friends blowing noise-makers, chugging egg nog, and watching the infamous ball-drop while pretending we were in NYC ourselves. But two years ago, for the first time, I decided to go outside instead.
The decision might seem like a simple and obvious choice for someone who loves the outdoors as much as I do, but living the first 25 years of my life in the middle of Oklahoma made this more difficult than it might have been for others who live in more scenic areas of the world. The finale for 2010 would be different. The day after Christmas three friends and I piled into a small car and made the epic 48-hour journey to the redwood forests of northern California. This trip turned out to be one of the most enriching New Year’s celebrations of my life. For one of us, the trip would be a first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean; for another, a first time to walk amongst the giant redwoods. For me, it would be a revisit to one of my favorite spots on earth and a chance to share it once again with great friends.
The redwood forest has a beauty and power to it I have found no where else in nature. These tall trees (which can reach up to 379 feet) have a silence and stillness to them, and it was there that we were able to find a fitting balance between reflecting on life or being content in the moment. Every day we walked through the forest discovering new pockets of light, soft clover-bedded floors, and hollowed-out trees–each providing a unique area for child-like exploration.
This New Year’s eve a friend and I went back to this forest. We experienced much of the same and much that was new. Again I had the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to the future, but more so than on my previous two trips, I took the opportunity to be in the moment and to appreciate the fact that I was walking with ancient giants.
Next New Year’s eve, if you find yourself seeking something different and you haven’t tried it already, I would suggest going outside. It won’t disappoint.