Complexity of a Simple Desert

27 11 2007

copy-of-dscn2570.jpg The day after the “Boys are Back in Town” workshop, which I attended in Las Vegas about a month ago, I took full advantage to head out into the desert before my flight later that evening.

I drove out the 90 miles (the night before after the workshop was completed) to Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Got some shut-eye and woke up early the next morning to such an amazing sight. If onecopy-of-dscn2656.jpg could look upon a a sight like this every morning, you’d have a completely stress free life. I spent a couple hours trekking around the lake, then had some breakfast and made for the interior of the park. Parahnagat is connected (on the north side) to Desert National Wildlife Range. And I drove in to see what I could see, in a desolate place like this, so close, yet so far from civilization.

One could drive all the way thru out the south end of DNWR, except when I was there. The road was too risky to travel on and thus was closed. They’d already had a few people get stuck and have to walk out (like a day and a half kind of walking). But I was treated copy-of-dscn2801.jpgto something special, just before reaching the road closure. If you have never had a chance to hike amongst Sand Dunes, I highly recommend it. It’s awesome! It’s so unlike anything else. Outside the novelty of seeing sand dunes, it’s just a big pile of sand. It seems so simple and relatively unexciting at first, yet once you get on them they are a world unto themselves. They’re like an open book, with all the tracks of the various animals and insects representing the words on the page and telling stories of day to day life, of survival, of play and of epic adventures. When you spend some time on them, you also start to get a sense of how they move and shift and change constantly. For the inhabitants that frequent the dunes, it’s got to be the equivalent of us stepping out our door each morning and finding all the streets, houses and stores completely shifted around. It would definitely shake up the doldrums of day to day lifecopy-of-dscn2798.jpg we can sometimes fall into. So these dunes…..not so simple or unexciting after all. Speaks to me of the misconception of simplicity. Simplicity can in fact open ones eyes to a whole other level of life that we would otherwise miss if we did not take the time every so often to live as such. And once we are operating on that level, we discover the complexities, the excitement and the adventure within it.

It was neat how at home I felt out there. One would think, growing up in the Arctic, that this hot desert would be the furthest thing from it. And yet, they are in fact very much the same. The dryness, the minimal, sparse vegetation, seeing a long distance off, the overall harshness of the environment and the type of exposed, isolation that comes with it.

copy-of-dscn2740.jpgThere was something else that really struck me while I was out there. I have always admired the cacti. To me it represented independence, ability to endure great hardship, detachment and contentment, tenacity and tolerance, perseverance. I guess growing up in a similar environment, those qualities spoke strongly to me. But while I was out there this time around (had been once before to Death Valley about 5 years ago), I was struck by a very different sense. I saw qualities represented that would, at a general glance, seem to fall under a different sort of category. I saw Interdependence, unity, connectedness, respect, flexibility and co-operation. In an environment that is as extreme as this, where life is lived on the razor’s edge, the absolute necessity for all to live in near perfect balance with each other is crucial. The amazing thing is, for the most part, they do. And we should take comfort and draw hope from that. For it means that we, with far greater faculties gifted to us and in an environment that is far more forgiving, should be able to achieve such a state of balance, within ourselves, our families, our communities, our countries, our world.

So how to achieve such a balance………..

…………..perhaps ask the Simple Desert:)





3 responses

29 11 2007

Beautiful photos, Shane. They definitely deserve to be seen large! (Ok, ok, I know I’m always bugging you guys about that, so I’ll stop now).

I love the metaphor of the desert plants living so interconnected and in unity with their surroundings. We all depend on each other so much in order to maintain balance and order in our lives.

4 12 2007

Ok I agree with Erika, I means let us see what you are talking about lah.

Great metaphor for the new stage you are in. Thanks for sharing your trip.

9 12 2007

Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it. When I was there, the idea that we can find greater interconnectedness thru greater simplicity, was really talking to me. It was so loud, I don’t think I could have ignored it if I tried.

And glad you like the pics (just in case everyone out there doesn’t know, you can click on the pic and it will fill up half your computer screen:).


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