Today I went hiking in the Marin Headlands, less than 15 miles away from San Francisco. I drove across the Golden Gate, past the holiday crowds still gathering at the bridge lookout point, and into hills covered with coastal scrub that led to the ocean. When I reached the beach, there were just a few people on it, but many more surfers in the water taking advantage of the big waves the strong winter wind brings to the California coast.
I’d done some research and printed out directions for a particular hike, but when I got to the trailhead, I instinctively felt like heading off in the opposite direction to a trail that took me further away from the city. This trail led me along the coast, and just over the edge to my left, the waves smashed and splattered against it. Sometimes the path dead ended and I had to find the main trail again. I went past the eerie ruins of a military base that used to occupy the Marin Headlands and up, up, up rocky slopes.
When I reached the highest point I was going to go, I climbed up some small rocks to flat surface and had lunch. Over my left shoulder was the Golden Gate Bridge wonderfully juxtaposed with the San Francisco skyline. Ahead of me and to my right was only coast and blue ocean. I could hear nothing but wind and waves.
As I embraced the beauty, I was happy that I found this place and was taking advantage of what’s around me. I also realized that I could do this so much more. Traveling around the world has ingrained a mindset of perpetual travel in me, but at times I still get set in routines and forget to slow down and explore and appreciate my surroundings no matter where I am.
The New Year feels like a good time for grand plans, and rightly so. But it’s also a time to feel how quickly years can pass, and to remember to make the most of what is essentially a sum of fleeting moments, near and far, big and small.