City lights, ball drops, bars and booze. Those are the hallmarks of New Year’s Eve, our nation’s great sigh of relief after the 12 days of Christmas are mercifully packed back into their bowed box and crammed back into the attic. On New Year’s Eve, we celebrate the hanging of a new calendar. The dazzling spectacle of Times Square is supposed to be a refreshing reminder of the new year to come. Yet, it seems that with each dropping of the ball an old familiar scene repeats itself.
What were you doing last New Year’s Eve? How about the year before? Or the one five years before? If you’re like me, they start to blend together. In my hometown of Memphis, we usher in each January with the dropping of a guitar. It’s a stereotypical take on the New York classic, but the old six string salute serves as enough reason to commence with the required libations and jubilations.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen that electric homage to Elvis plummet over Beale Street. Nor can I truly distinguish one year from the next. At least, not until now.
This year, I broke the mold. And I think the tale is worth retelling to you, the business owner. Why? Because it’s not just the holidays that cram our brains and bodies into an annual routine. Human beings are almost universally creatures of habit. Once our bodies adapt to something, be it a food or a sleep pattern or a particular route on the drive to work, we tend to stick with it. That’s why I ended up at countless guitar drops. That’s why you probably eat some combination of the same breakfast foods each week.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s also nothing wrong with breaking out now and then. Doing so has its benefits, including but not limited to the achievement of an entirely new outlook on a mundane situation.
That’s why I found myself in the Mojave Desert as fireworks and champagne bottles across the globe resounded in a symphony of celebration.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more remote location in America than Mojave National Preserve. The oft-overlooked stretch of barren, sandy plains between Las Vegas and Barstow, California, offer little in the way of amenities. There are certainly no guitar drops here. In fact, there may not even be a bottle of champagne outside of the retirement haven of Palm Springs.
No, the Mojave doesn’t have New Year’s Eve parties. It almost certainly doesn’t have fish, either. And if that sounds like a strange place for a Fishing Tackle Retailer story, know that I’ve always been at least as likely to scour through a topo map of some far flung mountain range as a chart of the nearest reservoir. It’s the old Boy Scout in me, perhaps. Or maybe it’s just the call of the wild.
Whatever the reason, I found myself huddled over a granite campfire ring in the heart of this unchecked wilderness on December 31. Over my shoulder, a joshua tree stood sentinel, Christmas lights dangling from its pronged palms—the lone reminder that anything was particularly significant to the humans scattered around the desert on that night. Out there, there were only two people within eyesight anyway: myself and my girlfriend.
As I watched the final sunset of 2017, I sat and thought about the past.
I thought about routines. And why we should break them.
Oddly, I thought about the old man at Henry’s Marine in Charleston, South Carolina. About how he threatened to pull a gun on me for asking to write about his store on our website. That had been more than two New Year’s Eves ago, when a far less traveled and far shorter-haired version of myself was jaunting up the Atlantic seaboard in a rental car in search of retailer interviews.
I wondered what the old man was doing now, if he was still around, and if he’d still try to pull a 12-guage on me if I walked into his store with a pen and a camera today.
I wondered how many years he’d spent behind the same counter, walking through the same glass doors after the same drive to work.
And I wondered this not in a malicious way, but in the way that one looks back on curiosities throughout life. I probably caught the man on a bad day, after all; just the wrong young whippersnapper walking in at the wrong time with the wrong amount of pluck and the wrong questions.
Mostly, I wondered if the old man just needed a break.
Sometimes we all need a break. Sometimes we need to hit “reset” and get as far away from the ordinary as possible. For a fishing writer, that place happens to be the Mojave Desert. For you, it may be somewhere else. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to go to that place. Wherever it may be, it might just give you a fresh outlook on your business. And, you might just come back with a renewed sense of gratitude for your daily grind.
Happy New Year.