September 18, 2012

Water in the Desert

A desert man does not desire water in the way a temperate might assume. He does not wish his land to be flooded and bountiful. He likes to find his water where he expects it to be. Where it ought to be. He will go to it when he so desires.

There is little more unsettling than a desert flood, for the desert lacks the soil to handle a true torrent. Is it much a wonder that the desert Father has promised us there will be no second deluge? He knows the wishes of his people.

It must be said that there are some that silently desire a larger drink, and may even fancy a swim. They sometimes get excited by the smell of a storm cloud, but quickly think better of it, or rather, regain their proper fear of it. Many of these thirsty men will learn to better like the taste of sand. But there are also those with a more particular palette. They don't so much desire to visit a mild landscape — they want to see the jungle.

At first the reluctant hydrophile will deny his thirst and take pride in his continence, but he can only do this by remaining where the water is scarce. There is an appeal to the desert. It is quiet, pure, and clean. From atop a dune the desert reveals itself for miles; there is little need to fear a surprise. The dry journeyer knows that with water inevitably comes soil. Before he can move on he must reappraise the value of dirt, and the meaning of dirtiness.

Soon he will acquire a map to the jungle, and will mark out his path. At some place along this road, where home is farther back than his destination is forward, he will get his first taste of humid air; in this breath our desert friend will understand that he had been dehydrated most all his life. The next step will be obvious: he must leave behind his clean robes of the desert and wear a more proper uniform for this new land – his own skin.

The naked wanderer finds that in the jungle he can no longer take a step without bringing some of it with him.