Along time ago, I read about the journey of a shepherd boy. The boy had forever sought something in his life. What the boy sought was something that had been ever so vividly depicted in his nightly dreams. It was strange and foreign, yet still warm and welcoming. The boy set out one day leaving everything that he had to embark on a great journey. A journey over land, sea, and dunes. The dunes of the Sahara.
For some time now, the desert has called me. I never knew why, nor did I understand the purpose of its callings. I just knew there was some connection to it ingrained deep within my soul. When I first set foot on the African continent, I knew that the Saharan dunes were in my destiny.
Leaving Marrakesh, I set out for the desert. It was a slow process, as my carrier made its way through the beautiful Atlas mountains. I watched anxiously and pondered as we passed through small villages tucked away in their own existence. As I observed the people going about their daily routines, I wondered just how different my life could actually have been and how fortunate I am to see the world in real-time.
As I arrived into a small oasis town late at night, I found my way to my host’s home with guidance from some new-found friends. Upon arrival I was quickly greeted and welcomed. We all sat around drinking tea for some time in the bright evening sharing our lives with one another as the night went on. We got to know one another with any words that we could find in common. As I looked into the distance, it was evident that I’d arrived in the desert. The rolling mounds of golden sand lay just beyond our midst. The Moroccan Sahara was upon us.
The preceding day, our caravan of camels embarked upon the desert. My camel took me effortlessly up and down the sand; we rode until normal land was just a figment of the imagination, a distant memory at best. The heat of the summer, dry, yet ever-present, tested our determination and will to reach our destination. Then, seemingly out of nowhere a community of tents appeared in a valley. We descended upon it and made ourselves comfortable in our temporary homes. The sun continued to disappear behind the dunes respectfully giving way to nightfall.
The night seemed to come as quickly as the day left us, the rolling dunes changed from golden to gray. The moon, full, lit up the night sky, as if to be a beacon to those searching. With the moon so strong and the dunes so real, I knew that I was experiencing my first true Arabian night. Soon I was looking up at the most brilliant array of stars that one could imagine. Even through the full-moon’s brightness, one could see stars a city dweller could only dream of. Stars always leave one intrigued, they are such a mystery to us, but they are such a part of our existence at the same time. We see them daily, but know little about them.
As the others slept, I walked away from the camp. I climbed a dune and found a place to rest. In the distance to my east, I imagined Algeria, one of north Africa’s largest countries. I looked to the south and thought about the African continent, and the monumental challenges its people face daily. To my north lay Europe, so close geographically, but worlds apart culturally. Behind me lay the lands that I know best, my home, my upbringing, and my cultural norms. It was as if all of my experiences were meeting in one point. Mesmerized by life, I sat, the cool sand touching my body. The moonlit dunes stretched as far as I could see; a never-ending ocean of sand.
Drifting in and out of imagination, I began to ponder what the desert’s purpose was; its lessons for us. I realized in its mystic presence it can be representative of the world. It can be cold, it can be warm, unforgiving, yet welcoming. Dunes are unforgiving and challenging to understand, yet they are adapting and open to change. Overlooking the sandy ocean, I asked myself what I’d take away from all this. I contemplated the boy’s visions. Some would call them dreams, others might say he was searching for his purpose or destiny, regardless of what he was seeking, the boy found his way his personal destiny. In my own way, I now understand what called him.
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