One warm summer night I had just grabbed dinner with a friend and as I was driving home I had the brilliant idea that I would watch the sunset. It was nearly 8pm and I could already tell it was going to be a totally photographic one. Not that I’m a photographer, I’d rather just see the real thing than a photograph of it. A couple weeks before, some friends and I had discovered what was probably the best place to watch the sunset in the whole city. However, it’s a 2 mile trail from where you have to park your car. I was already on a time crunch so clearly there was no time to invite anyone, let alone pick them up. I could see the sun starting to slowing sink closer to the horizon line with every passing minute. I sped my way to the park, into the parking lot, got out of my car, and hit the ground running. I estimated that I had about 10 minutes to get to my destination. Even though I like to get in the occasional jog, I don’t consider myself a runner, so I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking when I thought I could run 2 miles in 10 minutes.
About 5 minutes in I had to take my first break and I realized that I was in the middle of the woods alone, and it was getting dark. Now, this park is in a relatively safe area, “but unfortunate situations can happen anywhere” I thought to myself as I began to run again. Another 5 minutes or so went by and the end was no where in sight–and I was lost. With each rest break I took, I got a little worried. By the 20 minute mark, I wasn’t really sure where I was. It was now almost completely dark and since I had missed the sunset anyway, I decided to give up and head back to my car. The way back seemed even longer, probably because I used up all my energy on the way there so I couldn’t go as fast. Finally, I made it out of the woods to the meadow part of the trail and I could see the last little reflections of light on the submerging clouds and thought “Wow, I can’t believe I missed that!” I start running again as the trail turned back into the woods. In the woods it was completely dark and I wasn’t quite sure where I was, so I started getting a bit scared. I’ve camped in the middle of nowhere and hiked in many a woods, but always with other people and never just by myself. You always here those crazy stories and I figured this is probably how some of them start. I just wished that somebody–anybody–was with me. It didn’t even have to be Mr. Muscles! Which in that moment, two things came to mind. The first was realizing how much of life really is other people. The second was a summary of the quote: “Don’t be so sure that your next moment is more important than this one. Be present in this moment and this season because your life is happening today. Your life is never not now.” –Tricia Lott Williford.
Needless to say, I made it back to my car huffing and puffing. On the drive home, I rethought my independent-I-don’t-need-anybody attitude I had come to love. There’s just something about our humanity that enjoys connection and memory making with other people. My dad always says “you’re not an island” and as the years go by and with situations like this, I think I’m starting to get what he means. It’s not that being alone is wrong, or that being alone means your lonely, but rather accepting the fact that you can’t always do it alone, and that’s just one beautiful part of your humanity. I thought about that quote and how whenever I try to get one step ahead of life, it can pass right by. “Be in the moment” is such a cliche over-used quote these days, but there’s definitely truth behind it. Being present, no matter where I am or who I’m with/not with, is difficult, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.