We took to the desert this weekend. He and I and an eager novice crazy enough to accept our invitation. When it was too hot to attract the crowds, we sought out the sun. There, in the red dirt and dry heat, above the river, and clinging to the cliff we climbed. For hours. Suns-out-guns-out, topless and sweating, we scaled The Fingers. He led, we belayed, we spent an afternoon coaxing a new climber, absorbing the warmth into every pore of our being like bears gorging before hibernation.
In a rare moment of vacancy, we had the normally disheveled desert to ourselves. So we spent the day sweating and mostly naked before retiring to the river for a fresh scrub and a cool dip. There, we basqued. High on that orgasmic refreshing river. To top off an already perfect day with a blessedly re-energizing swim – in fresh water mind you – is just about too good to be true. You can only imagine the giddiness.
And then it was off to cocktails and campfires. Windows down, our clean faces were kissed by the desert dirt that blew back in our windows as we climbed uphill to our tents. Finally in that strappy dress I’d been craving, bare feet in the red sand, book in hand and sun on my face, I was at my best. There, with limited options and confined distractions, with my favorite company and sore muscles I found my familiar high.
As it turns out, the recipe is rather simple. I’ve learned that much this year:
Or some combination thereof.
I can be by myself with all of the aforementioned criteria, or in good company with just a few. Either way, it works out in my favor and I am most often left with a smile smeared across my face as I collapse, exhausted, onto what usually turns out to be some sort of crappy sleeping arrangement – a developing world mattress, a holey sleeping pad, the back of a truck.
I can’t say it has been my favorite year. Not my least favorite either. But like the desert and the river and a weekend in the sun, I’m becoming slowly aware of the precise specs of my soul. I need a challenge, I need something unknown. I need possibility to behold. And then I need the space to be creative, the opportunity to define my own agenda. I need an outlet for tangible production and a source of inspiration. Out of this mix I am likely to thrive. 99% of the time.
Of course, 1% of the time I will end up flat on my face. I will be blindsided by pessimism and constrained by schedules. And then too, I will learn something. Chewed up and spit out the other end I will be left to figure what went wrong, why the stars hadn’t quite aligned. Growth either way.
Driving back from the desert, the blueprint for bliss was plain for the world to see: windows down, music up, red horizon, flanked by big white peaks. Man up front, friend beside, adventure had, a day to behold.