Facing the ‘desert dilemma’

Some people get lucky because their share in this life is to have a safe, unchallenged life. Some are born in the same town, labour in the same town, get married in the same town, die in the same town. Some are content with things being as they are, some aren’t, but the lack of wider choice, different worlds, dramatic changes and unthinkable challenges make their lives more peaceful.

Other people’s luck involves discovering new worlds and facing fears of unknown, challenges they couldn’t even dream of. They are born in one town, labour in another country, get married in another country and they don’t even know where they are going to die. The life is a constant wandering and it’s both tiring and scary, exhilarating and refreshing, unknown and desired.

Some people are like an oasis. They struggle against wind and storm, but stay where they are until further notice. They always look towards the centre of it never thinking of leaving, knowing that it is safe where they are, if anything in this world can be classified as ‘safe’. Some, on the other hand, are always looking towards the desert and it evokes dramatically diverse emotions. Usually awe and fear, and, not unusually, the thought that after all, I have everything, why would I want to leave in search for the unknown? Who said it will be better than it is? What can be better than the comfort which one already has? But every restless night and every routine day reminds us that this is not as good as it gets. I love reading “the Alchemist”. Santiago could have stopped at any time of his journey, being content with himself. After all, he achieved a lot, but he knew that his heart was always set on his treasure and, if he was to stay true to himself, he could not abandon his mission of finding it.

I have never personally been in the desert. I would like to, but I doubt the heat and the sand appeals to me this much, but on the other hand there is something I want to see. This unspeakable vastness facing which one knows that there is nothing they have that can impress it. All our possessions are nothing facing the deadly heat. Suddenly our priorities are redefined. Our needs as well. Looking into the desert presents us only with possibilities, but there is no currency one can trade there for life. It’s mind-blowing to think about it. Our power which we exercise in our workplace, the people we upset, willingly or not, the power which is exercised upon us, it’s all absolutely nothing in the face of raw and unchallenged nature.

Not having much is a new concept for me, I must admit. I have always associated security with home. To create home you gather things. Ornithologists call it ‘nesting’ and it generally means that a bird is just about to bring forth a family. All sounds reasonable, but what if one struggles between looking into the oasis, where all the security comes from, but knows that it’s the desert that evokes more questions and it’s the desert that is calling out for them? Not one generation in my family were born and died in the same place. I guess it’s our tradition. My journey of abandoning the ‘known’ for the ‘unknown’ started very early as well. Some of this was up to me, some wasn’t, but considering that moving is one of most traumatic experiences we can have, apart from being dismissed from one’s workplace, losing one’s health and going through a divorce, I have started quite early. I am not complaining, I understand that all is for the good. But only most recently I discovered the true meaning of being a nedida. With all that I accumulated away from ‘home’, in a place which I never called ‘home’, but tried to make it ‘home’ I found myself deprived of the sense of security, of my things, helped by amazing people, but spending a week or two here or there waiting for my new lodging contract to start. It was painful, but I have learned two things: home is not where your things are, and you don’t need them to keep going. I sold everything I thought I would hold on to forever.

I recently read my friend’s blog and admired her for her courage. She didn’t just stay at the edge of the oasis looking into the desert and wanting to make a jump, but still continued living there. She, quite literally, went to the end of the world to check out for herself, if what she imagined was indeed what existed. It didn’t work out, sadly, and I feel for her, but her courage baffles me. My courage can be explained in the easiest way by, being afraid of what is before me, but also being afraid of what is behind me, lucky for me the fear of ‘known’ is greater than the fear of ‘unknown’. She said that you take your chances with different worlds three times, and then you learn in the fourth. I’m on my second world now. I hope I make it in the third.

I remember the fear when I previously decided to make a significant move. I made that decision, I moved and I remember shaking and asking myself what have I done? But this was one of the best decisions I have made. It hasn’t been easy since and it will never be easy, who said there won’t be scorpions? We are not leaving the oasis for a safe life, we are leaving in hope to find a fulfilling life, but we know that the journey will be dangerous. Facing unknown is always dangerous. So the question isn’t who’s going to let me, it’s who’s going to stop me. The home is where our heart is. Mine is still beating inside me. Image

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