I went into the desert to study the shifting shadows and sandstorms, the vibrant colors absent the watery fingers of humidity.
Above me was the unfettered clarity of an open sky with abundant room for condors’ wings.
As the sun’s heat held me in place like the thumb of a god pressing me down, the sand’s sibilant voice had a hint of a child’s singsong.
What do you hope to accomplish here?
“To capture the essence of your beauty in words.”
The desert grew silent, almost contemplative, as I waited for it to speak again. I could see the small eddies of distant sand swirling, as if the embodiment of the desert had gone away to think.
In moments that seemed like hours, it said to me:
You come unbidden. You are unwelcome. You are not loved here.
The words hurt, but did not surprise me.
“Then I am a lot like you. When life gets difficult, we say we’re going through a ‘desert experience. They too come unbidden, unwelcome, and unloved. They are learned from, in hindsight, but never sought out.
“For most of us, we like to forget you even exist. We are creatures of comfort, and you are not comfortable.”
And yet, here you stand.
“Because there is a beauty in you that is not in comfort. You are a scouring, purging, cleansing force that challenges our survival. You slough off the dead skin of our self-importance.
“And sometimes, families draw closer for having the experience.
“You challenge our resolve, and make us better, though there are times your sand triumphs, and consumes us.”
I did not know this.
“It isn’t for you to know. You simply exist, and there is wisdom to be gleaned in the ruins of our civilizations you’ve consumed, that await discovery from future seekers like me.
“Your existence hides our wisdom in the folds and rises of this landscape, and in order for us to find it, we must risk who we are, and lose ourselves to you.”