Motherfuckin’ Desert Person
I’m a motherfuckin desert person. And I like to wander as long as it’s on a strict timeframe. Because when you’re out in the desert you lose track of how long you’ve been walking and if you don’t budget your water right this can be a serious problem. The desert is place to go to lose yourself in exile but it is a better place to be hardened for a future purpose. You move with as little as possible and what you carry is calculated; (weight) vs. (necessity towards your survival). Like a water canteen, like a pistol, like a blanket or a law degree. You grab and go, you move by night, and you think long and hard about the path that got there in the wasteland.
It’s a misconception that everything in the desert is dead. At night time it is always quite alive. At night you hear rabbits or small dear scurrying across the dunes, and there are snakes and birds; kill the birds and eat them and leave those snakes alone. All manner of the toughest creatures alive thrive out in the wasteland. At night its freezing cold and the wind rips dust across the wilderness. It’s best to wrap yourself a white sheet underneath and black cloak on top. And cover your face. The moon is very bright, bright like you’ve never seen before. Overwhelming is good word to describe it. It is better to move at night for obvious reasons but you have to careful not to lose your path, losing your sense of direction can be quite fatal out there. You have to cover as much ground as possible in fridget conditions and you have to calculate destination such that you can end up in a wadi or a spring to pitch your tent come the break of dawn. The freezing cold rips right to the bones and you wonder what is worse the blazing heat or the frozen nights. You’re stuck with both. You will never see stars like this; there are no city lights or suburban sprawl in a thousand miles to dull their brilliance. You’ll see your first shooting star and then someone will tell you it was an air force exercise; until you see your first shooting star you won’t know the difference.
And you’ve already got your notions about desert by day. When you are in the desert your eyes play tricks on you. It is like sensory bombardment resulting from subsistence deprivation. You’re running on a near empty tank at all times. Out there in that desert; it’s you, and whatever name you call your god, and the freezing cold nights, and the dead by dusk heat that makes you sweat even when you aren’t building pyramids. People have the wrong conception of a mirage. It’s not so much that you think you see a lake or some body of water elusively situated upon the horizon. It’s a twinkle of salvation that stays just as far away each time you move towards it. The mirage represents some supposed place of destination generally always off the path. You could tell yourself it looks like water because water begins to occupy most of your waking consciousness out there; but it’s not water; it’s just another stretch of land you halfway died to get to that yielded oh so little in return. If the cold will end this life by night then yes; it will be the heat that does you in by day. But the reason you let it do so, the reason you wasted all that water; was chasing some mirage that wasn’t on your path at all. And no, this is not a metaphor. I’m just telling you common sense to uphold when you’re out there.
The desert is also a place of extremes and it breeds extremists. It’s not just the night’s cold and burning hot days and animals or mirages or bandits and death. It is that when you take away all those creature comforts, those flashing neon signs, those places to buy some so called happiness; you begin to see. The Misson, the Cause, the Struggle, (the idealized purpose of ones life) become a little more focused; your role in it all becomes more defined. And the profit margins, the cost benefit analysis, your sophomoric, college influenced conception of human nature; none of those things come out here with you. Your family is across an ocean, your friends don’t know where you are, and the cute ethnic Albanian girl in Law class can’t send you adorable text message smiles. When that’s all gone. When the water runs out. When you go off path following a mirage. When you’re out there without anyway to reach your destination, when you have been stripped of all distractions; you learn absolutes, you learn extremes, and you universalize our condition.
When the water runs out you have to think quickly about what matters. You have to conserve your strength, even conserve your thought process. You have to focus on getting out of the desert alive, but this is secondary on ascertaining what you came into the desert to learn. Desert people quicken their process. Time is never on their side. The absolutes are the lessons we’ve learned that translated into righteous action. The extremes are idealized conceptions of your beliefs brought into focus so one might take a stand. And the final realization of a desert person is that out there in the wasteland no matter what nation, what religion, what race, or what people; without water everyone in the desert on a long enough timeline is going to die.
Desert people are out there for a whole lot of reasons. There are whispers in that desert that might give a person a semblance of a plan. We didn’t go out to that desert to fuck a whore in a casino, build a golden calf, or take ecstasy and watch a fifty foot man shaped idol burn. Desert people do not engage in those activities. Not when they want to be right with whatever they call god. It’s place to go when you have to make a decision, it’s a beginning point or an end based on what path you follow; it’s not a weekend retreat or a three hour tour.
I’m proud to be a desert person. It has made my people very strong. I learned things out there that one doesn’t see when restricted to a temple or a mosque. Out there in that desert when the water runs out you and whatever you call your god can take the precious time left to calculate what you’ve been doing with your life.