In 2018 I began my solo journeys. It wasn’t what I had planned, but it worked out, just the same. I have had some truly wonderful moments to offset the not so wonderful times. On balance, I think the good times have outweighed the bad, however so overwhelming the bad might be.
I had been single until my early 30s when I married the man who would be my husband for 32 years. And while we had our differences, one thing I do think we did well together was travel. We were both curious of mind, always interested in the next new thing.
A ski trip wouldn’t have been Scot’s choice, but he did intersperse skiing into our first sojourn, knowing it would entice me. We had only just begun our joint sojourn when he took ill. It was a trip of skiing and hiking, all in the West and Southwest, the areas he loved. We had skied Park City, hiked around the St. George, Utah region, and were going to turn towards Lake Tahoe for more skiing when we had to reroute back to Minnesota.
So I can’t really speak to traveling duo versus solo. I don’t have a full season to compare. But this is what I can say about solo or duo, having been solo more than duo on my sojourns.
- Nobody’s schedule but my own.
- Time to reflect
- Easier to meet people.
- Ski at my own pace, where I want, when I want.
- No political discussions, unless I want to start one.
- No political dissonance—I can just leave.
- Cheaper—I don’t eat out as much, or eat as much.
- No need to please anyone other than myself
- I can listen to whatever I want in the car, or watch whatever I want on TV
- Easier, faster decision-making
- No steady or reliable dinner partner
- No shared delights.
- No partner on the chair lift.
- No skiing on the edge—of ability, of difficulty.
- No skiing trees.
- No one to share the driving, although that wasn’t really a problem for me.
- Bed gets cold sometimes.
- No one to bounce ideas, theories, discoveries with
- I have to do it all, from packing and unpacking, to maintaining the truck and toting my gear.
- I have to pump my own gas
It was actually difficult to create these two lists. It’s like the half full/half empty scenario. I am never sure which description of the glass is supposed to be pessimistic versus optimistic. To me it’s all about how much water (or wine) a person has to enjoy.
I would be a liar if I were to say I wasn’t lonely at times. Of course I was. Many, many times. But those lonely times made times with friends, relatives and new acquaintances all the better. And I would be a liar if I were to say I didn’t want to be alone at times. There were times when I relished being alone: to think, to continue listening to a book I had started but hadn’t finished, to write, to just be quiet.
On the Myers-Briggs Preference Type table, I am a ENTJ/P—Extroverted (getting my energy from people and the outside world), Intuitive (making connections between concepts and the practical world), Thinking (making decisions based on facts vs. feelings) and J/P (a blend of wanting closure and wanting to keep my options open when making decisions). Many days I could see my preferences influencing my day. The activities I enjoyed, the people I met, the positive end to a long day.
Once I asked my mother-in-law how she was doing after her husband passed away. It was weeks or months after the fact. She said she was fine—that she had no choice but to be so.
I feel the same way. I’m fine. I have no choice but to be so. I feel as though I have been on an accelerated growth spurt the past two years, thrust into a world I hadn’t bargained for, but engaged in it none-the-less.
I’m not sure what the future holds—a cliché, I know. With the Coronavirus turning the world up-side-down and in-side-out and there’s the complexity of everyday life added on top of it. No, it’s not what anyone thought life would be like, but we will be fine—we have no choice but to be so.
We all have a wealth of life experiences to draw from, we all have the opportunity to make a bad situation as good as possible. We all have the opportunity to grow, thrive, and come out the other end better than before—or else dead.
And that’s the stark reality, the ending is there for us all, it’s a matter of sooner or later. And the challenge is making the time between then and now as fruitful, fun, and worthy of those ripples our lives make in the pond before us. Splash or plop, tsunami or the gentle imprint of a perfect dive, we each leave a mark–for a little while, at least.
All that somberness aside, it’s been a wild ride! We are living through an incredible time in world history, when some strange and beautiful virus threatens us all. I wonder that something so beautiful can be so scary. I see the pictures of that perfect sphere with the red florets spaced so-so around the globe. How can something so banal be so bad?
The evil virus brings out the good in many—sharing, service, kindness. It also brings out the secret from the closet—that I am in the at-risk age group!! How can that be? ME?
Will social distancing actually bring us together in the future? Let’s hope.