Several days after coming back from 5 days of pondering in the desert, I’m still not able to be shaken back into civilization. Sitting in the desert for so long made me completely forget that another world actually exists. The stock market went up and then fell but the Milky Way still glistens in the night sky in exactly the same way as it did yesterday and a thousand years before that.
I think of these jaunts in the desert as a possibility of drastically modifying my urban DNA so that something changes inside me at least periodically, if not permanently. Preferably not once or twice but as many times per year as possible and to discover the man of nature within me. The result is definitely radical. Being completely cut off from technology and going back to an ancestral way of life modernises human relationships. Relationships become freer in nature. I’m less restricted and more creative and live much more in the present than in the past or the future.
Today people try to build as comfortable a life as possible for themselves, while they neglect their duties to themselves, their inner worlds and their immediate environment. They constantly want to be free from debt and continuously promise that they will pay, if not today then tomorrow. They rush so that they are not left behind and so that they can catch up with others, and they don’t notice that their lives are failing and being ruined.
Before going into the great outdoors, for one month I worked myself into a sweat 12-13 hours per day to finish everything and to be able to escape for 5 days in the open air. When I got there, looking at it from that natural environment, those hectic days working at a nerve-wracking speed seemed completely crazy and absurd.
In the desert mechanised, civilised time loses its logic. One more hour or one less, one more day or one less, one more month or one less – none of this matters at all. The desert goes its own way and if you live in it, then, being totally free from the rules of time, you really do live in it. The ticking of the clock or the calendar don’t determine your thoughts or your actions.
Modern life turns us into slaves. We work ourselves to the bone to maintain our comfortable lifestyles. This wears us down and completely transforms our value judgements and tastes.
In the past, wise men mostly lead simpler and more modest lives than poor people did. From the point of view of external prosperity nobody was poorer than the ancient thinkers (from China, India, Persia and Greece), whereas in terms of inner richness nobody was richer than them.
We spend most of our lives working to pay our rent or mortgage and other bills instead of building a small shed which would satisfy our most important needs and which would cost a fraction of what a normal house costs. We would then be able to focus on our inner selves in the time saved. For instance, Native Americans lived in tents we call today “eco”, which could be put up in one day or at most two. What’s more, everyone had their own! Not like today where in “developed” societies we pay enough in property taxes alone to buy entire Native American villages.
Going back to electricity bills, taxes and gas, for the umpteenth time the following question comes up. Why do we waste the best years of our lives working in a job to meet our need for comfort when if we gave up a little bit of our love for comfort (to which we are slaves) we could live lives that are much closer to nature, our loved ones and ourselves and which as a result would be much more humane?
These short desert trips represent a utopia which was here at one time. We just forgot about it a long time ago.