(f)eelings (o)f (m)agnificent w(o)nder

 It was powerful, knowing that I could do whatever I wanted, that I could experience all that I wanted to, and know that I would always be there for me.

We all have times in our lives when we feel guilty for being alone—those uneasy, sad emotions that make you feel like you’re not enjoying your life to its fullest, that the grass is greener on the other side. It’s a combination of feeling guilty about solitude and being sad because you’re alone. Lately it has been referred to as FOMO, or fear of missing out.

Before this summer, I felt that feeling often.

This summer I worked in wilderness therapy, living in the desert for two weeks at a time. During the day we would hike through the Grand Escalante National Monument, and every night set up camp in a new place. After everyone had made their dinner, usually beans and rice, or “Keens and beans” (Quinoa and beans), we would all get in our sleeping bags and start dozing off. Before falling asleep I would look up at the stars and go over the events of the day in my head. And then of course, in the morning I would wake up sweating, squealing, and trying to get out of my sleeping bag that the blazing morning sun had turned into a baked potato wrapping.

One afternoon, I took an hour to myself and wandered away from our base camp. I meandered down the hill, and looked back up at the activities going on up there. For a moment I wished to be part of the activities, but I found myself walking again. I took off my shoes and felt the warm golden orange sand slip through my toes. It was warm on the surface but cool underneath.

I let myself ease into the earth, and then kept walking.

 

As my feet guided me on this glowing surface, my eyes glazed around me images I knew I would never forget: the sand, the sage bushes, and the tiny lizards scuttling across the desert floor. Ahead of me stood one tree, not very tall, but incredibly bright in color. A perfectly unpaved sand road seemed to go on forever, and on the horizon a gigantic storm cloud took up the entire sky. It was making a statement—taking a breath before it let it all go.

And then it let it go. Huge raindrops pelted the sand, making tiny craters of deep orange. It was slow at first, with heavy drops, and then got faster. I took a deep breath and started running. I ran into the storm, accepting everything it had to say, and everything it was. The rain got heavier and heavier. It was a monsoon! The sky wasn’t dark anymore—there was no sky, just rain. I ran faster and faster, and then stopped. Raising my arms into the sky I let it drench me. I was immersed. It felt like the world had reached down and chosen me for this moment.

And then I gasped, “Holy shit my sleeping bag!”

That night, while I was resting in my fully monsoon-soaked sleeping bag, looking up at the stars and reflecting on the events of the day, I thought about my run through the rain. I felt at peace with myself. The entire time I was alone I hadn’t thought about any other activity I could have been doing. In that moment I was so, so happy to be alone. It gave me courage to want to be alone. It was powerful, knowing that I could do whatever I wanted, that I could experience all that I wanted to, and know that I would always be there for me.

In short, I felt FOMO, no mo’.

Author: Leila Parsons