To venture into the Sahara is to confront the limits of our resilience and adaptability as humans. My trip to Morocco included a visit to the desert, where I witnessed the incredible dunes up close, and felt the fury of a serious sandstorm! I’m not the first person to make this comparison, but the desert is a lot like the ocean in some ways: vast, beautiful, ever-changing, and also inhospitable and uncaring.
To be engulfed by a landscape that cannot sustain you is to be humbled at your fragility, at your awareness of all the people and resources upon which we depend for survival. I often say that regularly asking yourself “Who am I?” is an important part of wholistic wellbeing, and nowhere has emphasized the importance of this question more profoundly than the desert.
When it’s just you, alone, surrounded by nothing but sand and sun, there’s no hiding from these existential issues. Because I meditate, I was able to calmly enjoy this feeling of helplessness, of feeling tiny and vulnerable. I even found it liberating.
Because this part of the world often looks like a different planet (which is why so many films have been shot in the area), I also experienced a deep appreciation for the fragility of our planet. The desert grows each year, as the dunes are driven by wind and drought to cover more and more land. So the Sahara is also a cautionary tale; without serious action to slow climate change we will all become acutely aware of our vulnerability — and not in the way I experienced, as a welcome epiphany while on vacation.