We’re on a “workcation” and part of that stay involved going to the Arabah/Aravah desert. The desert has this wonderful way of entertaining you with its harshness. We were lucky that on day two of our stay, we managed to see both a sand storm and a rain storm in an area that gets less than 55 mm of rain a year.
And, we also got to see this sunset.
Of course, being in such an isolated place with no internet for a number of days makes everyone say the words out loud that they are thinking:
“could you (I) live here?”
“is it too isolated?”
And then there is a deep discussion about what “here” means: Does it mean the desert? Does it mean the isolation? How do you feel in such a harsh landscape? Is it too much for you? Do you crave green?
And from here, the conversation leads to those you want around you: Do you need to have people around or will you go crazy? Should there be kids allowed (we were staying at a child free place)? Would you come only to relax / unwind/ sit Vipassana or could you make your home here?
Do you fit here in this desert?
Where do you belong?
In terms of the actual monetary cost of the stay, it was not a budget friendly two nights in the desert. But the actual benefits that it offered was escape from everyday annoyances which are also (pun intended) taxing. We didn’t have internet. We didn’t turn the television on. No one used the inside luxury Jacuzzi shower and instead, showered outside in a small wooden box under the stars. My husband reported that it was “one of the best showers of my life”. The lights flickered on and off because the electricity was rural. The only noise pollution was the sound of trucks on the highway and the odd plane in the sky, and the air conditioning that ran non-stop because we were all afraid that we would be swallowed whole by the heat.
Instead of digital entertainment, we watched a sand storm develop on the dunes and rage towards us so fast that we had to duck inside, behind the safety of the porch door. Like animals stuck in cages, we watched the earth change. The wind whipped the olive trees around and they screamed a hallowing sound. The wind also shook the pomegranate and lemon trees so some of their late season fruit fell off, much to the happiness of the birds lounging around. My husband even saw a lizard hurriedly seek shelter up the wall.
After the sand, the rain came down.
A bunch of posts that I have read on FIRE lately are about privilege and money and cheapness vs. thriftiness. But I think the point is actually finding your own personal freedom — finding that place where you feel that you belong — where you are whole. Maybe that place is a fleeting 5 mins, drinking coffee on a plastic chair in your backyard when your three kids are screaming at you from inside. Maybe its something as extreme as the desert abode above.
The buddhists suggest that it’s right where you are.