We stood in the middle of the desert. Nothing for miles. Well, some things: abandoned sheds to either side of our cabin, Joshua trees, insects buzzing and of course, like our host forewarned us, rattlesnakes. But when you're from New York City the loose translation of those collected somethings is, nothing. The wind buzzed through our ears. Our ears started ringing. We looked at each other and simultaneously asked, do you hear that? It was the sound of nothing. Nothing sounds like ringing, as if your ears are producing noise just to fill the void. As if the absence of sound is too much to bear and our ears will make up something, anything, to just not be empty.
At one point I looked over at Craig and said, I don't think New York exists here. And it didn't. Nothing exists in the desert. It puzzles. And in so doing it points to the fact that anywhere, in any desert or city or suburb, the only thing that really exists are the thoughts we keep in our mind. I promise I wasn't smoking peyote out there. But I might as well have been.
The desert disorients in a magnificent way. It closes you off from the noisiness of human life, the traffic and checkout lines and crowded commutes. It also strips away the loudest noises of them all: the clamor of competition, drive, ambition, and success. It sticks you deep in the quicksand of the present moment. Dropped in with nowhere to go. It's haunting and it feels damn good.
It's a meditation. There's no judgment because there is no thing to judge. To look for miles at vastness gives you an idea of how small you are in the context of the universe. For someone like me who strives to be better, better, better every day, this was a welcomed insignificance. Smallness and insignificance. Two things we don't normally strive to maintain. But in our ever-urging minds grasping for significance, greatness, and prestige, do we miss out on the point? What if our smallness is the pathway to our greatest authenticity? What if our insignificance actually frees us up to work and love and live without the judgey voice of our inner critic circling around our daily activity like a vulture hungry to feast on the last scraps of ambition? What if we did more by doing less?
Again, I swear I wasn't smoking anything.
When people ask if I'm glad to be back, I say I'm still gone. I'm still in the desert. I'm caught in the quicksand of that life-changing moment. I'm in love with my insignificance and mesmerized by my smallness. Because from there, something may just come from nothing.