Monday, December 27, 2010

The Pulse of the Dunes

Disclaimer: i am in a tiny town deep in the moroccan desert and am using a french keyboard...be easy on me with typos and punctuation! all the letters are in different spots....talk about a change!
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...Last night i could feel the sand¨s heartbeat when i put my ear to the Earth. I am not totally sure if it was my heart beating or the pulse of the dunes or both...Regardless, we were both most certainly alive This rhythm lulled me to rest and i dreamt well enveloped by the cool dirt.

The pace of the desert is sweet. Led by camels, we walk over a landscape with only one constant - change. The wind rules out here - dictating tomorrow¨s shape and yesterday¨s memory....but really there is only now. Within a moment it is all different than before.

This is a fragile landscape. People who see it from a distance may think it is dead. Nothing grows, nothing lives in the sahara, they would say. But perhaps, it is the most alive of all ecosystems, of all places... living only for right this second.

Sand sprays like ocean mist. Eyes play tricks as we walk through the dunes. Sand or smoke? I am not sure. Mounds of sand morph into bubbling caludrons, steam floating out the sides as if there is a witches brew inside. Instead of frog tails or raven¨s beak, this brew is full of ancient sands and elder¨s whispers....

Change happens in front of my eyes. Each moment a reminder of the fragility of life and the impermanence of everything.

I wander through comfortable amidst the chaos, the change, the turbulence. It is the only thing familiar about this place. Perhaps, i am so at peace because the impermanence is out in the open for all to see - not hidden like we try to do in much of life. It is obvious on a basic level, requires no explanation or understanding. It just is and you feel it, you know it and there is an ease in that...

Enjoy whatever the new year brings you! More to come in 2011. Off to the mountains until then....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Morocco Bound!

As a result of my wanderlust spirit, my dad and I have spent countless hours in the car on the way to and from the airport over the last couple of decades. It started with college and has just ramped up since then. He tirelessly picks me up and drops me off without ever complaining - braving awful weather, east coast traffic, crazy jersey and new york drivers (of which he is proudly one)….even ticker tape parades. He doesn’t care that I am wearing the same clothes I have been wearing for months or that I haven’t brushed my hair in weeks…And, regardless of what he has just struggled through, he always greets me with a big hug, a bottle of water and a few pieces of chocolate –really all it takes to make this girl happy.

It’s funny because there are other folks who could come pick me up - my brothers and sisters have offered…But, for some reason he chooses to make the trip each time. I have come to value this time with my dad a ton for the rare opportunity that it is – time alone with the coolest guy in the world to catch up, ponder life, look out the window, listen to stories, laugh…whatever. It does not really matter – it’s time with him and that’s really the most valuable thing a person can give.

My dad is mostly to blame for my desire to explore so much of the world. When I was tiny, tiny he started taking me to the “mountains.” We’d go explore the Palisades – these little hills – near where I grew up in Jersey. The city skyline was the big attraction and bridges were as prevalent as arches in the Utah desert. I remember these ‘hikes’ with such detail and vivid color - tromping through the woods, , finding a creek, discovering treasures and seeing my first red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead. But more than what happened was how it made me feel…there was adventure, a peace I hadn’t known and a comfort – I was home and I was hooked. It didn’t help that my dad was also a Nat Geo addict. There were issues dating back to the early 70s hanging around the house and the day the new issue came was always exciting (I know, we’re totally dorks!). Through these magazines - at first looking at the pictures with my dad and then eventually reading them on my own – I went to the pyramids, explored the Great Barrier Reef, hiked the Grand Canyon and so on…

We are about to get in the car once again (in less than 15 minutes) as I embark on yet another journey and I am beginning to settle into the idea that this is really happening. I’m going to be gone for about 10 weeks traveling in Africa and today I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ll miss the most while I’m gone. Broccoli ranks really high on the list. Fresh drinking water, hot showers, my bed, the voices of those I love….these things I will miss. I will not, however, be sad to say goodbye to the news, cell phones, computers, or Christmas music (sorry!)…

But, more than what I will miss or not miss, I am focusing on what I am going to experience. The funny thing about this is that I have no idea. None. I know nothing of what will happen in the next few hours, days or weeks. There is a “plan” of sorts of where I will be and what I will be doing, but really – I have no idea what this looks like, who I’ll meet, how it will all go. The thing is that we never really know what’s going to happen, but when we are at home and in places we know or are comfortable there is a perception of predictability that we carry around. It’s an illusion that serves a purpose – to keep us calm, centered and functioning.

So, the key to traveling for me (or anything that brings me out of my comfort zone) is embracing the uncertainty and finding a center point from within – regardless of what is happening around. The send-off I just got from my crazy family and all the support I’ve gotten from so many folks around the globe will be a good start. And, the hug from my dad when he leaves me at the airport will be just enough to last until I get home. Heading out…

My family a few minutes ago giving me a Jersey send off..."the moon's the limit!"