It’s strange how deserts turn us into believers. I believe in walking in a landscape of mirages, because you learn humility. I believe in living in a land of little water because life is drawn together. And I believe in the gathering of bones as a testament to spirits that have moved on. If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. ~Terry Tempest Williams
The creative side of my mind has been uncomfortably quiet since I returned from India. It’s as if my creativity remained in the warmth of the land of infinite contradictions when I made the transition back to Chicago with her straight streets, drivers that follow rules, and bone-chilling temperatures. I have written nothing I find interesting in these past six months. I have shot only uninspired photographs that make me want to wretch.
Did my creativity remain in India? Did it drop off in a snowbank when I shoveled my car free before going to work one frosty, pre-sunrise where it remains frozen awaiting the warmth of a spring sun to germinate? Most likely it’s buried in the busyness of my life.
Without this companion, I feel half empty, half human, monochromatic, half alive.
Plans are in place that will be moving me in the direction, returning me to the land of the fully alive. This upcoming week my betrothed and I will seal promises to each other when we unite in marriage, a ceremony to be held in a redrock amphitheater, a place I feel most connected to the universe spiritually. My betrothed is the yin to my yang, the light to my dark, the one that helps me see the rainbow that exists between our souls.
For a few days prior to our ceremony, we will be in Death Valley, California. At 282 feet (86 m) below sea level, it is the hottest, driest, most parched, desolate, and lowest elevation in North America. I love deserts so this excites me. I can’t wait to drink in the sun from the cloudless sky. I can’t wait to swim in the dry heat. I can’t wait to bathe in the silence.
For one day, I plan to leave my fiancée behind (unless she wants to purify with me) and make a trek into the backcountry. I will set out at dawn, fully naked, and walk until the heat from the rising sun sucks all the moisture from my body, until I am as parched as the land itself, until my skin sloughs off in flakes and floats away and becomes one with the sand tumbling over the rocks, scattered by the winds to be dispersed to the four corners of surreal reality.
Then I will lay on the leeward side of a sand dune and allow the elements, sun, fire, wind, earth, to scour my body clean. I will be cleansed of preconceptions, cleansed of consciousness, cleansed of the ego that hurts my relationships. I will lay there until my mind and soul are scrubbed clean and are fully exposed, raw, open to the searing eye of the sun crossing from East to West. I will let the sun do its work to burn off all that is superfluous.
How will I know I am ready to return to civilization? I will know when I can take the spike of a yucca plant, poke it into my skin and, instead of blood, light flows from the wound. The light that illuminates. The light of purity. The light of creativity.
Then I will be fully alive and free to become one with my yin.