With it’s overwhelming sense of isolation and sometimes piercing silence, I never expected to like the desert. When us Angelinos say “the desert,” we mean Joshua Tree of-course (there’s a little insider information for ya). The first time I went to the desert it was over spring break with a group of friends. To be honest, nothing about it sounded particularly fun. I’m not a camper by any means and besides, what’s to enjoy out in the middle of nowhere? As it would turn out, a lot.
The first thing that struck me, something that still gets me, are all the stars. Holy beejeezus so many beautiful, shining, magical stars. I’ve always lived in cities, so it had never occurred to me how beautiful the sky might be outside of my concrete jungle. The second thing that got me was the serenity, there the air stood still and something about that was impossibly reassuring.
Out there time slows down and the days are longer in the best way possible. Days are longer because man made pillars are all 200 miles away, the desert is a two hours from home vacation, and out there I give myself permission to be myself. With no reception I am forced to stay present to my surroundings and to the people around me; being present has always been a struggle for me. My mind is always in a million places all at once, making lists and finding things to worry about. Honestly, when I’m not going over my neverending to-do list, I feel guilty, lazy even. I rarely allow myself to just appreciate a moment. Out there, in the desert, my mind surrenders, agrees to be silent and let the stillness seep in.
The desert provides a simplicity that I didn’t know I was lacking. In a world where we’re all inundated with news and information, where we’re so connected all the time, it’s easy to dread the lack of constant stimulation. Honestly, it’s a different kind of stimulation out there, something primal kicks in, the grandiosity of the world settles in. In the city it’s easy to feel small, but there I feel mighty and capable of taking on anything and everything.
I haven’t been to the desert since September and I’m making plans to go back soon. Well, hopefully soon. I need to get out of LA, disconnect, reset. There are art exhibits and music shows and a sky full of stars calling my name. The desert is my favorite place because it’s where I feel most at peace.