ne cold October morning, halfway around the world, deep in the Wadi Rum desert, I woke up before dawn, slowly I crept out of my tent in nothing but my pjs. Despite it being pitch dark, I began trekking in opposite direction in hopes of experiencing one of the desert’s famous candy–colored sunrises.
The sand felt heavy with every step I took, in retrospect, I should have at least consulted with our guides before embarking on my own, but I felt determined to meet this sunrise halfway; our guides had informed us our camp was facing in the
opposite direction and that we wouldn’t be able to see the sunrise from our tents. Me, being myself. and having watched Lawrence of Arabia RIGHT before this trip, felt more than capable of reaching the other side by foot nonetheless.
Armed with nothing other than my phone and it’s dying battery, (as there were no outlets in the camp), no WIFI or signal, I kept walking in silence, just me and the cold, red sand for what seemed to me like miles. Without the ability to tweet every thought provoking thing that came out of my head, I resorted to what my ancestors probably did back in their days, quietly ponder about life, staring out at the horizon.
The first thing that came up was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, never in my life, coming from a small city in tropical Honduras, did I ever imagine that I would be exploring out in one of the most beautiful places in the world, THE Wadi Rum desert, thousands of miles away, on my own. I was my own version of Lawrence of Arabia if he had been a chic, 27-year old, wearing silk pajamas, black leather boots and a jacket.
How did I get here? I thought, I should be at home, married, planning birthday parties for my kids, like the rest of my friends. I should be stuck in that unhappy relationship I held on for dear life because being alone made me feel so incomplete. I should be working, my face, buried deep in work, uppin’ up my caffeine intake. Certainly, ANYWHERE but here… did I deserve this experience?
But alas, I WAS here, soaking up on the peace and quiet, the wisdom of this ancient ground, where thousands of others had gone on their own little life changing journeys before me. I kept giving thanks for this experience, and even though there was only silence, a reply came from within that said “I wanted you to experience this.”
Light slowly began seeping in, and I kept thinking about how I ended up here. I had met my friend Tala during college, she was a sophisticated Jordanian girl, and I, a flamboyant, naive Latina girl; we quickly bonded over our love of food, coffee, and watching Egyptian soap operas. (The actors were always so good looking!) After we graduated, we parted ways and always kept in touch. For 5 years we kept each other up to date, so it was no surprise to me when I received her wedding invitation last year, and having nothing to tie me down anywhere, I found myself on a plane to Jordan.
It had been 2 years since I experienced an emotional meltdown of epic proportions, one that rattled my foundations to the core, which had forced me to come face to face with my shadows, my fears and my own demons. I had never given thought to the concept of myself, getting to know who I truly was, and in a sense, was a pretty shallow person for the most part of my youth. I was the kind of a person who adapted, to whatever my surroundings, whatever the crowd, whoever I was with.
But boy, did my soul have other plans, for whatever reason, the universe decided it was time to confront the beast. But first, it had to get me on my own, it all happened fast, like falling dominoes. The person who I thought would be my partner in life, an excuse for me to never have to deal with myself alone again, made the decision, (unbeknownst to me) that he would vanish out of my life after 2 years together, like everything that is never meant for you does, ripped like a band-aid…
And there it was, a crack, right smack in the middle of my heart, slowly, getting bigger and bigger. The time had come and there was no escaping the waves of emotions, traumas, fears, and everything that had built up in first quarter of my life; the flood gates had opened, and there was no stopping them. Not really knowing what else to do I allowed myself to drown in them slowly.
It took me almost 2 years of therapy, introspection, changing my diet, surrendering, traveling, taking multiple breaks, surrounding myself with my friends, loved ones, family, writing, cooking, chanting, yoga, Pranic healing, hell I even planted a rose bush as a symbol of burying my pain! I remember, writing down in small pieces of paper, things that had hurt me in the past, with trembling hands and tears down my face, as my psychologist instructed, she said “Trust me, once you see the first flower bloom, you’ll be able to say that from such great pain, a beautiful thing blossomed.” And when that first rose bud came, I was certain, everything that had led me here had been for my highest good.
Sand had started oozing into my boots, by this point I was almost certain my sock had turned from white to some sort of red hue. I could see the colors starting to assemble, an explosion of color, a show reserved only for those that can find enough will power to rise before the sun does. I felt the cold in my cheeks, my breathe had grown heavy as it usually does after long bouts of deep thinking. Looking at the sky, at what surrounded me, the dunes, the stunning red, rock structures, I could have been in Mars for all I knew, far away from everything, and I even had a minor “Ground control to Major Tom” moment.
I started thinking of how little my world had been until now, in the presence of greatness, all my past troubles, heartaches, stressful moments, everything seemed infinitesimal. In that moment, tears began rolling down from my cheeks and I laughed at the silliness of it all, in that moment I became present, took deep breathes, and understood, just like I had read in “The Little Prince” as a little girl, what’s essential, is invisible to the eye. All my life I had seen things, but never truly understanding that what really nourished me were those intangible things, love, happiness, compassion, honesty, generosity, etc. That immense crack in my heart had made way for light, for clarity, I was able to truly see now.
I stopped as I had finally reached a good viewing point, and slowly, as if it had been waiting for my arrival, the sun began its ascent. By this point I had probably clocked in my daily amount of steps, I couldn’t see the camp anymore but it didn’t matter at that moment. The sky turned into a pastel palette, soft hues, a sweet welcoming into a new day.
When I read Hemingway’s work in high school, I could not relate to the ‘lost-generations’ feeling of being lost in a meaningless world, how they would fill their time with inconsequential activities, filled with alcohol, parties, sex, and every distraction allowed in the roaring 20’s. I had not lived through a war, I hadn’t felt betrayed by the world. Until unknowingly, I went to war with myself, and once I had lost, I became aimless and fell into an escapist state, evading reality because I couldn’t find the strength within to fight for my life.
When we are in darkness, we tend to think it’s a permanent state. Little did I know, for me, it was merely the dawn of a new awakening, as Hemingway wrote, the sun also rises and it did that morning, 7,000 miles away from everything I had ever known, announcing the dawn of a new era for me.