As a previous person who lived a really unhealthy lifestyle, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day holds a lot of importance in my life. A few years ago on New Year’s Eve, my life changed dramatically and every year since, I reflect fondly on the new changes a new year brings in my life.
Not to mention, I’m also a bit superstitious and feel that if Iwake up early and watch the sunrise on the first, (as I did so many years ago) I will truly seal in my intentions for a successful new year.
So far….my tradition has held true.
And this year, I wasn’t going to break tradition now. So, on January 1, 2021, my alarm was set for 4:30 AM, although due to my excitement and anticipation…I was up earlier without the alarms help.
Under the dark sky in the crisp winter air, I drove to the nearest mountain, a 10-minute drive from my house. I expected the trailheads parking lot to be full of cars. Last year, this place was unexpectedly crowded with New Year Days hikers.
But to my surprise, this year I had my choice of parking space under the glow of the streetlights of the small parking area. “By 6:00 AM, I’m sure this place will be full.” I thought.
Walking away from the comfy light of the parking lot and into the desert wilderness, the moon silently hung in the sky, which provided enough rays, that I didn’t need the help of my headlamp, to see the trail.
As my favorite writer Edward Abbey is quoted as saying:
“There’s another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If I switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light it makes in front of me; I am isolated”
Along the trail, I felt a bit out of my element; alone in the darkness. An owl hooted nearby, whose call was quickly returned by it’s pair bond. I imagined their piercing eyes on me, confused by my presence in the early morning dark sky with no other humans around. “Was I interrupting their New Year’s Eve hunt?” I apologetically thought. I searched in the moonlight for where the owls had to be but unable to detect their shape in the dark wide desert landscape.
I continued hiking up towards the top of the mountain in the silence of nature. No sounds, other than the crunch of the dirt under my shoes.
As I reached the saddle of the trail, I could see the headlamps of the hikers below darting around below. For a moment I felt relieved, knowing there were more people around but also knew I had to claim a spot for sunrise, before the crowds came.
As I continued now with a more purposeful and quicker hiking pace without a second glance, I bypassed the popular spot, which so many hikers tend to stop at to watch the sunrise. This year, I needed solitude. I needed to find a spot alone to meditate and just enjoy the First Day of 2021 in silence upon the mountain.
A few minutes upon passing the trendy scene, I found a position up along the highest point of the trail, that few hikers rarely make an effort to hike up. While having an open view of the East for the Sunrise and as coincidence would have it….the Earth provided a shoebox sized bolder laying there, a perfect spot to sit on.
As I sat, the dark sky had an open sliver of the glowing orange light peeking out. I relaxed sitting there in the coldness of the desert winter, knowing there was nothing to do, nowhere to go, except be in this moment, feeling the Earth under me.
As I began to prepare and relax my body for a short meditation, I could hear coyote howls along the other side of the mountain from behind me. Calling in the New Year with their pack, I felt the urge to howl along with them.
As their howls began to fade, another owl hooted while the sky began to have an aura of amber glow and the darkness slowly began to fade.
As the moon floated in the sky, it’s light still shining and the candle lit sky of sunrise emerging, I felt balanced. Right in the middle of the darkness and light.
I felt balanced and one with the moment. This sweet magical moment, that happens twice a day…only very few take the time to truly witness it (including myself).
Then suddenly, the scene emerged as the tip of the sun’s sphere glistened above the hazy cloud line just above the horizon and then….effortlessly the new 2021 light shined down.
Silently a little black birds silhouette flapping its wings, flew across the bright sunlight , landing on a nearby tree and disappearing within the branches. The desert was quiet and still, as the sun light glow spread out further across the land.
It was only a few moments after this scene, that the sleepy desert decided to fully awake, as one bird began chirping, followed slowly by other tweets joining in to greet the New Day of the New Year.
The day became new and exposed in the fresh morning light. When the sun fully emerged, I insistently went to get up and continue hiking to a new spot, but decided to sit back down again.
“What’s the rush?” I thought. “I have all day to enjoy.” So, I continued to sit still and meditate about my intentions and goals for the new year. I allowed myself that intimate moment of silently speaking to the universe and thanked it.
Thanked it for every new year, new month, new day, new hour and new second, in which it provides all beings the opportunity for restarting anew.