Friday, January 31, 2014

Facing the Desert

The desert is always open. The park is patrolled. The neighborhood is gated. The state asks for the proper papers and applications. Even the family can turn out its own. All places have barriers and prices. Not the desert. All the desert asks is that you make a choice.

At first glance the desert offers nothing but expanse and nothing to entertain the senses. But here you are. Your back is to the world you’ve known. No telling how anyone gets to this dry frontier. Some even pray for this vantage point on emptiness.

After you've taken the first step into the desert, one step is the same as any other. There are no landmarks. It’s as if you’ve gone blind in a world in which no direction is possible. You could be going straight or in circles, and even this difference seems impossible to discern. All directions are without value. So why continue?

Because you decided to be here. Even if there was nowhere left to go but the desert, you walked in. In its profound aridity, there are no distractions, no others visible, no one to blame. And yet after walking a while you realize a growing presence. It becomes enormous. It is fear.

It is fear. And it is you. It is fear because you don’t know how this aimless journey ends. It is you because only you are here. After a while you realize that there's no knowing how this journey ends. It’s a blindness always to be yours.

After a while (and who knows how long things last in the desert?) some dots appear on the horizons. They are cities with their families and neighborhoods and parks; the familiar people. You gain entrance to them again, or they may shut you out. It is no longer very important.

The desert is always here, open and asks nothing in return.

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