If you like my blog, you probably noticed I haven’t written in quite a while. I think every person has those moments when eternal gratitude that we have fades a little. Well, I had one of those. I was looking for an inspiration in all the wrong places. While all I had to do is listen as it was all around me.
It hit me what I wanted to write about. Immediately when I heard yet another comment about how awesome it was that I travel so often by myself, being a woman and all. People often admit to me that they would never have the courage to travel solo. Well neither had I at first.
I want to ask for your patience before I go to the mighty and beautiful Grand Canyon. And I really want to tell you a story of how it all started. I was a poor student who scrabbled some money on a trip. I simply wanted to be cool and brag to my classmates about my awesome summer vacation. The only place I could afford was Costa Rica. So I went literally on a shoestring. There, among big group of equally poor teens, I met a gray-haired yet energetic Chinese woman from Canada. She listened to my wining and self-doubts of being a solo traveler. Then she told me something like that:
“Honey, I was married young and told my husband I wanted to travel. He asked me to wait till we get more money and better jobs. That came but he asked me to wait till our kids get older. That came and he asked me to wait till we retire. That came and he asked me to wait till grandkids no longer needed us. And finally he passed away. And here I am, travelling solo. So darling, never wait for anyone or anything to make your dreams come true. Go around the world on your own if you need to and don’t be like me, spending your life, waiting for the right moment.” I never hesitated travelling solo since.
So how does Grand Canyon fit into all this? I guess, it was the biggest test of travelling solo yet. I broke my leg 6 months prior to my trip and was not in my best shape. I was not in a good place mentally. And I was not in a good place financially. What a great set you might say. So I went to the Grand Canyon to change this. I discovered a few things about myself in the process. Some, I won’t bore you with. But others I would love to share.
Sometimes you need to look closer to home
All those exotic places like Galapagos Islands that I wanted to travel to are great. But none of them could compare to the vast expanse I saw staring deep into the Canyon. I really was missing out on discovering the beautiful place close to home. Similarly, I probably was missing on thousands of beautiful moments that happen next to me every day. I opened my eyes to appreciating every day and every unique place, be it a park block from my house.
Fear is something we all carry and overcome
I ended up going down the canyon on a South Kaibab trail and coming up on Bright Angel with four wonderful women. And we all had our fears. I was scared that my leg would give in. One of my companions was scared of heights, other of her poor health, third of something happening, and another one of unknown. Well we all made it down and up just fine. I will be honest, I cried at the end. The tears of joy and accomplishment just poured out of me. I was not a frail and broken female but a strong woman. Fears, often stop us from realizing our dreams and our purpose. We just need to be brave enough and jump in with faith.
Happiness is a state of mind
We are all happy, as I recently heard. And then we spend all life learning how not to be. Well, I agree. I was doing just that. But being around people who were hiking in the Grand Canyon taught me that happiness is a state of mind that I needed to choose for myself. The mule riders, guides, campers, lodge workers, all had the air of this resolve around them. Resolve to embrace the adventure. Resolve to smile at every sunrise.
You can be blind to beauty
I met a guy on a bus ride to the beginning of the trail. He won a lottery to camp at the base of the Canyon. He was plain looking at best. I met him again on the way down, smiling. And I met him at the base camp, enjoying a drink and later sunset near the river bank. He bought some postcards, stamped with the cute stamps that said “delivered by mule” for his friends. And, what did I say about him… Well he was absolutely gorgeous in his joy and closeness with nature and the moment. So are all of us when we let go and allow ourselves to show it. Insecurity and self-criticism is a state of mind just like self-love. Well, I choose to believe that I am beautiful just like everyone around me in their different way.
Travelling solo can be a gift not a curse
Grand Canyon trip, no matter how short, brought me close to nature, like-minded people, and reconnected me with old friends. I managed to stop in Phoenix and drink an awesome coffee with David, my favorite college professor. So instead of dreading my alone time, I enjoyed every moment being in awe of natural beauty all around me. And I sincerely recommend to everyone who is finding thousands of excuses why solo travelling is embarrassing, wrong, dangerous, or can’t do, to look for WHY it is a great idea instead. Be open to life and try to say why not. You might just get amazed at what new adventure will bring. I, in turn will learn to apply this mantra to everyday life. And instead of giving in to self-doubt, I will plunge towards my dreams.