Modern existence is one permeated by constant noise.
It’s the constant background hum of social media. It’s the incessant foghorn of advertising. It’s the internal roar generated by your spiraling vortex of responsibilities: career, money, family.
The noise seems to get louder every year, and shows no signs of abating. For all the convenience of modern invention, its constant abrasion grates on the soul. Therefore, the rare chance to free yourself from its clutches is pretty intoxicating.
Advertising bombards us with messages telling us to do just that: romanticizing the experience and adrenaline of seeking refuge off the grid. Executives get paid stupid money to come up with such thematic imagery, and clearly there is a market for it.
However, in conjunction with social media, adventure has become merely another tool for what I call “fun-bragging.” People travel to exotic locations just to ‘check-in’ how much fun they are having. I’m surprised they have time to do anything besides update their ‘snap stories’ or ‘going live’.
What’s the root of this phenomenon? The pursuit of approval and envy is inherently-human. We covet attention; it’s written into our genetics.
That’s fine and dandy, but I’ve found that there’s something beyond that surface-level pleasantries, and that’s to unplug completely: the solo vacation.
Eastern Delaware is my home away from home. Once you’re free of the beltway it’s a beautiful drive. I’ve made it so many times I can do it in my sleep. The reason why is that so little changes. The same landmarks dot the sides of the roads, the same produce stands and general stores (that in some cases span multiple decades of existence) bracket the highway in place of mile markers.
The thrill of the open road gives way to sleepy towns and quaint lodgings. Tall grass competing for prominence with adjacent rows of cornstalks. The breeze picks up a salty edge that intensifies as the beach draws closer and closer.
This time of year, the area is constantly abuzz. Folks crammed into their cars and driven from every direction to join into the fray. The beaches are pocked with umbrellas, flying beach balls and castles made of sand.
The bars are chummy, full of faces aglow, letting suburban airs melt into the summer shimmer. The sun-kissed staff dispense liberally-poured drinks with knowing smiles. You can kind of shoulder up and melt into the scene, engrossed in the conversation panorama.
The highlight of my trip is always the same, however. That’s catching the sunrise on the beach, watching the first tendrils of precious light seeping above the horizon. A flock of seagulls drift about in lazy circles and a few stray joggers pass by. Other than that, it’s just you and God’s ocean crashing down before you.
I wasted my twenties concerned with who I was with in the moment or who I wanted to be with. Invariably, they were mostly marked by unhappiness.
It’s only recently that I’ve discovered that the answer was right there all along. There is no greater freedom afforded than solitude – doing whatever you want, when and wherever.
It may sound like a simple truth, but sometimes you find that the simplest things in life are the ones that end up mattering most.