I’m not too cool for New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I already have a couple of boringly normal and very traditional ones in mind for 2014, like eating healthier and working out. (January 1st seems like an ideal time to do this psychologically, especially coming after the decadent holidays at which time we give ourselves permission to break every principle of healthy living.)

But there’s another resolution that for several weeks has grown in my mind, and grown increasingly specific, and it reaches at more complex goals involving things like connecting with the self, emotional maturity and balance.

I’ve always been the kind of person that thrives in noise, busyness, forward motion at a quick pace, enjoys being surrounded by people doing things all the time, comings and goings, travels and jobs. The greatest evidence of this is my choice of profession, news, live broadcasting, multitasking.

But a little self-critique and some experience has me concluding that I need to balance all this activity with some true retreat. Until my late twenties I had never found it difficult to be happy (in the same way that a child breezes through life without worries). I’m now 33 and my only experience with depression – an unpleasant few months several years ago – made me keenly realize how dependent I am on my social connections for my happiness, especially with the amazing woman I’ve been attached to for 12 years (who I’d like to be when I grow up).

Am I just using these relationships, my work, my busy life as a distraction? If so, what are they distracting me from? What lies underneath? I’ve always sought to be honest with myself, but I’m so engaged in the social process that maybe I haven’t ever given myself the space to do so with real depth.

Goals: I’m not seeking to have a huge life change or alter how I conduct my everyday life – I love it all so much. But at some point, I’d like to feel a little more comfortable with the inevitability of death and loss and absence. I’d like to be more self-sufficient with regard to my own happiness and contentment. I want to learn to be okay with being alone sometimes, which right now fills me with anxiety and fear. I want to discover peace in quiet, and peace with my own thoughts, and peace in the proposition of accepting life the way it is. It would be cool to feel more of a connection to nature too, since I already have such a wonderful connection with my fellow human.

So, I resolve to go on a road trip in early 2014, with the following 6 rules aimed at creating solitude, so that I can find out what happens when I’m truly by myself:

(1) No cellphone. This is first because it’s monumental for me.

(2) No familiar destinations and no cities.

(3) No talk radio; music is allowed if I brought it with me.

(4) No getting together with other people for extended periods.

(5) Books allowed, if they’re fiction (no hot topics and political tomes!).

(6) I must bring my food with me or buy it at stores; no eating out.

I don’t know what will happen. It may be horrible. I might hate it. I might dissolve into anxiety and depression. I may vomit from loneliness. But I may learn something about myself! I may accomplish some of those goals above. I might enjoy it.

Wish me luck?


UPDATE January 6th, 2014:

Well, I did it! On the first weekend in 2014, I went to Joshua Tree National Park by myself, camped there, and stuck to every one of the above rules (with an exception late Saturday where I ‘checked in’ at home via a single text to say I was okay). The picture above says it all: it was beautiful. I was alternately wide-eyed in wonder and relaxed and peaceful. The good news is I didn’t vomit from loneliness. Quietness and space is a pretty good thing from time to time, I guess. While this may seem like an obvious truth to many of you, it was kind of a revelation to me. I bounded back home feeling great and ready to tackle the rest of the month. Personal challenge met! I’ll be repeating this.