A Breath of Fresh Air – Clearing my Mind on the Trail in Northern New Mexico
It has officially been an entire year since I have been working in the real world post college graduation – 365 entire days. It seems crazy, and yet, when I think about everything that has happened and all that has changed in my life in the past year, it is not all that surprising. A little over a year ago I was taking final exams for the last time, celebrating four years well done with family and friends and about to embark on the journey that represented everything I had worked so hard to achieve leading up to that point in time. Fast forward to the present, and I am amazed to know that I have been on business trips to places I never thought I would travel to, met all kinds of people I would have never expected to know so well, and have been challenged to think about life in an entirely different way from an entirely different perspective.
Once all of my friends and I had been working for a few months, we started talking about when we could manage to take a few days off to go somewhere together. Some of us were ready to go that next weekend, while others knew it would be quite a long time for any sort of trip to be a reality. In my group of friends, I am the serial trip plotter and am constantly pitching my latest idea for when we can go where next. Although I already had quite a few adventures planned for myself, I really wanted this particular group of friends to be able to all go experience and discover something together. With vacation allotments on the slim to none side for some of us, and other personal restraints an issue for others, it took us almost an entire year to actually find a time where a group of four of us could take a few days to go on the little escapade we kept talking about.
We ended up taking an extra long weekend to make an 11 hour drive from Dallas to Northern New Mexico to go hiking. Our home away from home was my family’s 1970’s cabin near Angel Fire right next to the Carson National Forest. It really hasn’t been touched since it was built; meaning that the original décor, chartreuse colored kitchen appliances, and 1980’s ski posters hanging in the hallways are all still there. The house is nothing fancy, but it sits right in the middle of the woods, the ideal atmosphere when everyone wanted to do some reflecting and thinking.
Once we had all been in the car catching up for a few hours, we realized our reprieve from the daily grind had come at a perfect time for each of us in a different way. One of us was starting a brand new job the coming week and another on the verge of a bit of a meltdown from her stressful and demanding job (which she was soon to quit in just a few weeks). My friend who is a nurse had just flipped from night shifts to day shifts, and I was three weeks away from switching jobs at my company.
It was unanimously agreed that it had taken us entirely too long to make our trip happen since we had started working. Our chats in the car kept revisiting and circling back to the huge paradigm shift that we had each felt in different ways regarding how we viewed life, the world, and our purpose, and what it really means to work. Listening to each of my friends’ personal antidotes about how being in the corporate world post graduation had lead them through a discovery process about how work fits into their dreams helped me do the same type of reflection.
Being in the mountains, away from the noise and buzz of civilization was therapeutic for all of us. It allowed us to slow down, absorb our own thoughts, and reflect and talk about the things that matter most. It allowed us to actually hear what the gravel sounded like on the trail under our feet. It allowed us to soak in the sunshine and be outdoors for extended periods of time. It allowed me to remember how beautiful the world is. We took long hikes each day, saw beautiful waterfalls, and stopped to eat a picnic lunch in whatever meadow was along our trail. But mostly, we just got to clear our heads and talk to each other, or even sometimes remain silent on the trail in all of the various stages on the emotional scale we were experiencing at that moment in time.
I needed that trip. I needed it to allow me to hear and listen to all of the things that my friends were experiencing each day, and how they were similar or different from the things that were occurring in my own life. The corporate world is crazy and fast paced, which are both reasons I love it, but sometimes reasons you need a moment to slow down. This breath and break allowed me to exhale for just a few days between one work week and the next, and made all of the difference in the world to the group of us. I will probably remember this trip forever, not just because of where we went, but because of its timing and ability to let us reflect on all of the change that had been swirling around the group of us for the past year.
About the author: Lindsey Chandler is a blogger at The Everyday Adventurer, a blog dedicated to celebrating the spirit of travel. Her day job is working at one of the world’s largest travel technology companies.
Photo credits: K. Muncie, all other photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.