Desert of the Real

Desert of the Real

I walk alone in the desert. Aimlessly, without purpose, reason forgotten, I traverse that wasteland. I had a purpose once, I had a goal, but the heat sweated it out of me. Day and night, in the heat and the cold, I walk. I think I know where I go, but I could be walking in circles for all I care. I am thirsty for something.

On my path, I cross shadows, trails and paths, which others left some time ago, how long I don't know. I sometimes try to follow one for some time, trying to find something, anything to get out of this reality, this desert of the soul. I hope to find something to drink, to freshen myself, but there is only sand at my feet. I twice found something that seemed like water, an old oasis, but it only was a mirage left by someone else and the water was foul, poisoning me. I learned my lesson and avoided it, to protect myself, but I am so thirsty.

I am so thirsty that I am not thirsty anymore. I have been thirsty for so long that I am now used to it. I walk a path hidden to me, going nowhere under the burning sun of the real. But my mind knows I am still thirsty.

I came across a path I have seen before, it had led true for a while some time ago. It was comforting to see it again crossing my path. But I left it once, would I have to leave it again? I wasn't expecting much from the trail. I continue my way, never far from it, but avoiding it. Maybe it would lead me astray? I don't want to be thirstier, I really don't.

I sank lower and lower in the heart of the desert, my unfortunate home, my involuntary home. It is now comforting in its constant demand, in its even harshness. It was a realness that kept me alive, barely.

I marvel at the sky, at the infinity of possibilities that were too far for me. All the dreams and hopes I projected on others, hoping I would get caught in the wave. But a gust of wind blows back sand in my face, bringing me back to the real. So thirsty.

So thirsty.

So, so thirsty.

I couldn't even remember what being quenched felt like.

In my Desert of the Real, I slogged along, aimlessly.

One dawn, resting against the slope of a dune, you surprised me. I felt I recognized you. Like me, you were a traveller of the desert, but you were prepared, you knew what you were doing, at least more than me. You were more certain, more aware of what to think, believe and do. You saw me, desiccated, emaciated, living, but hollow of hope.

And you gave me water.

When I first touched that gift, it brought back all the life in me. It was a gift of life, a sign of hope. I wasn't alone anymore in my desert, I knew I could continue. You gave me enough to drink my fill, and I marvelled in it, remembering the taste of life.

But the pouch was limited. I must restrain myself. You knew where the oasis was, but only you could lead me there. Would you lead me astray or would you lead me to salvation, only time would tell? But once I tasted the water, I couldn't go back to my previous thirsty self, I knew better, I knew the pain I was causing myself. I followed you.

We walk together, giving support and comfort to each other. I was in more need than you were, but I wanted to give my part. But I felt it wasn't enough, I felt it wasn't the right way. You were helping me, but I was unable to give back. We walked, and walked and walked, the pouch slowly draining. The promised oasis still a mirage in our path. Were you leading me astray, were you the saviour I needed or a djinn tempting me further in the desert, trying to finally crush me. But the glimmer of hope was everything I had left, I could not go back to myself. If I left you, I surely would go back to my desiccated self. But the pain of the walk started to manifest itself.

Who were you? Who was I? What would you do once at the oasis, or before that, when there was no more water to share? The yearning for more was unbearable. You clearly could live on less water, however, now that I tasted it, I had a lot of catching up to do. I wanted, I needed to get to my healthy self. I wanted more. But there wasn't any. You rationed me for my own good, restrain the strain I was putting on both of us. Were you thinking of letting me go? I couldn't bear the thought.

One morning, waking up next to you, I saw no other option. I didn't want to be a burden any more for you, I couldn't reach the destination and so I would doom us both, better sacrifice myself and go back to my wandering than to hurt my saviour. And so, I left. But I was used to water. I was addicted to water. I needed water. I had tasted it, I couldn't go back to my blissful ignorance of before. The craving was consuming me. The drying feeling in my mouth shattering me. Like clay left to dry, my fault lines appeared behind my mask. I felt again thirsty.

A painful thirst, an impatient thirst, a violent thirst.

What I feared came. But I hope I saved you. The painful sleep of the desert slowly coming back, dulling my senses, making me forget. Lower, lower I went into my Desert of the Real. Further in, further alone I felt, I became. I needed to forget the taste of life, to be able to survive.

One dusk, resting against the slope of a dune, I was ready to stop walking, to stop the wandering. I was ready to accept the desert as my home, as my last resting place. I would never taste life again, so why continue searching.

And a familiar shadow appeared. Have you come back, have you brought me water again? Only the Soul of Desert of the Real knows.