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Desert Life Vs Modernity


Over the past two years of my life, the most intricate life decisions I took effortlessly- let alone effectively- while being amongst nature, whether it be in the desert or on top of the graceful mountains of St Catherine.  This can tell you how empowered one becomes when embraced by nature.

Coming to the desert.. Every time I drive through the desert marked indeed a new beginning in my life.

Every time I went off-road I learned something new about myself and about life in general. Probably because the desert sets you free of the city shackles and feeling such freedom when all such massive space is your home for a night or two, can indeed do a lot to your soul, let alone eliminating mental burdens.

My message might not offer much practicality, but what I’m communicating here is a set of tested conceptions and facts of life I was confronted with just by going to the desert and driving on the golden sands. Being to the desert highlights one’s potential and limitations alike. It confronts you with the neglected true nature of yourself, by listening to that fragile yet persisting voice inside you, the guiding light that usually goes unrecognized.

Driving in the desert requires some level of dare and that it triggers inside you, and it also reminds you of your limitations seeing a creation that’s so much bigger than yourself, that is the Sand Dune. A massive being that’s bigger than you and is not the work of your hand, mind or talent. It’s created by Allah (SWT) pretty much the same as you are created by Allah.

In the desert you are more in touch with the nature of yourself.

And by nature here I mean the original human “Fitra” that we profusely keep hidden under piles of invented modern considerations, greatly imposed by the incredible fast pace of life, and that which replaced the most significant human traits God created in us with newly acquired, less needed and somewhat counterfeit ones which our modern life fed us. This “Fitra” when taking the lead drives us through the most commanding challenges of our lives. In the desert we sort of enact this “Fitra”, we live nature and let it stir such “Fitra” in us, for this is the only rule that works there, experiencing fear, adn wisely reacting to it, desiring risk and slowly going for it by driving in a no-man land and through unusual terrains that involve crossing sand dunes.

It’s in the spacious desert that I came to understand what my person is made of, and I mean the physical, spiritual and mental being, the three dimensions of human beings.

One persisting thought strikes me whenever we stop to deflate the tires before driving over what we know to be squashy sands; we’re actually coaching the cars, or more precisely the tires, to be less stubborn with the sands, less resistible and less hard in order to ride well. We Deflate them to be more tender and submissive to the will of the sands and that’s how driving becomes less problematic and we don’t get “stuck”. Going against the desire of nature never renders good result, it’s like swimming against the tide.

Applying the same rule to my normal daily life has proved equally effective.

During my early drives in the desert I used to tighten my grip over the driving wheel, mistakenly believing that this will give me better control over the car. But the more I went to the desert and the more I listened to the instructions, I came to realize that a gentle yet attentive hold of the steering actually provides better handling of the car.

Likely trying to submit time, the natural flow of your day or anything that’s driven by the force of nature does you no good, leaving you tired and frustrated, while going smoothly about everything in life gets you just where you want.

Let me explain more… Many of us write their daily To-Do’s list, and I do the same. But in the past I used to start my day with a strict intention to follow a rigid schedule to fulfill all my tasks, which always put me under unnecessary stress that was usually crowned with utter frustration at the fact that I didn’t fulfill the full list, which I only heed at the end of the day.

Going about anything by force never works, pushing too much doesn’t necessarily mean more power… and this lesson was first learned in the desert and driving in the desert. Now I start my day, still with a To-Do’s list, but also with readiness to listen to the “will” of the day and its natural flow, looking forward to what it plans to bring for me, with some order still in place, but without strict deadlines, and I do achieve a lot more.

Such realization was even magnified when crossing the Sand Dunes. Deciding to cross a Sand Dune, one gathers his skill, dare, confidence and concentration while being “Submissive” to the “Will” of the Sand Dune to be able to pass through it. You gather your power, drive all the way up the Sand Dune and you stop to understand its “nature” which will guide you how your journey down its other side should be, its “nature” and “will” guides you and drives you safely back down.

You stop “respectfully” at the might power of the Dune to listen to what it shall tell you about your way downward. You reach the top and stop to assess the nature and comprehend the situation, a good lesson of decision making and tactfulness you pay to professional instructors in the city to teach you in planned training courses.

But in the desert the platform is set for you to learn an assortment of life lessons. And you cling to these lessons for the rest of your life.

But then again we’ll always appreciate modern technology, without which we wouldn’t have been able to go to the deserts unless we decide to ride camels, without GPS’s to guide us there- GPS’s that make a visit to the desert a handy weekend trip. So we should appreciate technology but embrace Nature.

May be I’m still affected by the spark of the euphoric experience I had in my last trip (on the new year night) to the picturesque Qaret Al Shura, my first time ever in that graceful place. What was so unique about this off-roading trip I know not, may be it’s the chemistry of the place, the timing, may be it’s my true intention to set the new year eve as a trigger of a new start in my life, or may be because it was the fist time to do meditation in the desert…

A lot of may be’s, but what I truly believe is that I “decided” to receive what this spot of nature had to offer me, that’s why I lived the experience to the fullest and got the best out of it.

It’s in the crowd of the city that I feel isolated whereas in the void of the deserts that I feel contained.

Maha Youssuf
Reflections I first communicated through Sahara Safaris

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6 thoughts on “Desert Life Vs Modernity

      1. Hehe…hey, I saw those quotes! :P

        I’m glad you discovered the desert, and I do pray that I can rediscover its surface, and discover its heart too soon enough. =)

      2. You will just love it Adam if you haven’t been into such experience before :)
        And if you’re interested at all you’re most welcome to join one of our trips if you ever visited Egypt :)

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