Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

Desert Thinking

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I leave the desert
A more honest man

~

Even great mountains
Cannot compare
In scale or depth
To the perspective of desert
Only the sea
And only when upon it
And far from land
Can some similar measure be found

~

Deserts prescribe lateral motionDesert pavement
The traveler is rarely confined to any path

~

The near desert is casual reflection
While the deep desert is powerful inquiry

~

The best thinking requires no effort of thought
Deserts encourage such deliberation

~

Tell it to the desert

~

How can I refute the desert perspective?

~

There’s no perceptible sentience in the desert.
It’s an empty mind where hard facts and reality don’t give a damn what I think.

~

I just walk until the thinking stops
Then the motivation
Then the forward motion
At last I sit wherever
At peace in the desert

~

There’s so much to lose out here…

~

In my journal just now I wrote “There’s nothing to be found in the desert” though I suspect my meaning may be misunderstood.

~

Desert peace is not like silence
There’s little rest
And many reminders of mortality
There’s a lonely alienation
And a gravity of mind
Relentless pulling
Incessant downward motion

~

The desert is a great place to silence the mind. Though you may not appreciate this brand of peace.

~

No thoughts to trouble my thoughtsDesert cold

.
~

It’s good to go to nature
Better if you go alone
And best if the distance is far and remote

~

Deserts destroy certitude
But only if you go alone

~

Ideas, musings and reflection are the surest desert harvest.

~

I’m alone now in a frightening, lonesome wilderness. There’s a part of mind suggesting Spirits. It’s driven by fear and my wish to get out alive. I even caught myself performing impromptu propitiation. This must be how such things begin.

~

The desert won’t hear your apology. Nor will it offer any.

~

There’s an ascetic quality of deserts which invites dismissal of fleshy thought and social concern. The mind empties into the wastes. Issues scatter like sand in the wind and worry rolls away like a tumbleweed. What’s left is as stark and dry as the landscape. A bare and essential perspective, silent and dear. No emotion. No thought. Barely a pulse.

~

The desert offers no councilMy first desert video
Only the senses speak
Words filtered through bias
Colored with emotion
Truncated with reason
A false interpretation

~

It’s time to go
The desert is scaring me

~

The mountain Muse speaks with the voice of rustling leaves and falling water. The sea Muse talks through crashing waves and wind over the swelling deep. The desert Muse though suggests everything with silence, reinforced with the argument of nothing.

~

The desert provides it’s own trails sometimes. I’d wander randomly without them, these natural paths, corridors of more convenient passage, prepared for anyone but me. The place they lead is as good as wherever I’d planned to go. And I’d step this way gladly and again, should I ever find my way back.

~

Great winds are battering the desert today. I wish I could be out there. And hear the beast’s inanimate roar.

~

The place I have in mind for Friday’s desert hike is like a long swim to a deep water island.

~

The harvest of a solitary desert hike is an empty, quiet mind; devoid of reflection, ambition or want. The longer away the more still the motive, and more lasting.

~

The vast landscape of my own ignorance is like a depth of night beyond the glow of a campfire, where the darkness only deepens with the added light of knowledge, and my meager fuel will soon be spent, with no hint or promise of dawn.

~

I love the desert as a place devoid of philosophy. A place where silence and emptiness speak their mind.

~

Whoever said inspiration lives in the desert must have known madness lives there too. I can’t be sure which is the greater muse.

~

There’s little here to kill meCalifornia Route 66 immigrant camp - softypapa adventures
Besides the desert itself

~

Deserts deceive true distance
Both landscape
And reflection
I never trust a desert mile
Nor the hazy
Distant
Apprehensions of mind

~

In deserts you can’t escape your thoughts, which trail and pester.

~

Deserts are a great place to cultivate the fine art of walking very slowly and very quietly.

~

The mute, silent indifference of deserts is a hard argument to refute.

~

I go to the desert for the thinking
Or rather, the lack thereof
There’s nothing like a mindless wander
Over trackless waste
To tease out irrelevance
Add wide margins to thought
And provide fresh, blank canvas
For the endeavor of living

~

Someone recommended I try gold detecting
Though the ore I’m after is more precious
And exceedingly rare
And never available
By any technology
Or common investigation

~

I recently rediscovered a desert community called Newberry Springs. It’s an interesting place, surrounded by ghost towns and nearly dead itself. It’s the kind of place just far enough removed to have once drawn those who didn’t want to be found. Maybe that’s the reason the cemetery is full of unmarked graves.

~

The sea envelopes our thoughts, while forests adorn them with superfluous life. Cities crowd ideas with companionship, while locked doors remind us we are alone. Only deserts offer sufficient space, isolation and freedom of motion to make way despite all good advice or precedent.

~

Desert solitude is nothing like being alone on a mountain, or in your room, or even alone with your thoughts. Every step subtracts something. Adds emptiness. Makes space which needn’t be filled.

~

The desert is surely flooding this week. And my thoughts are with a plant with a name I can’t recall which clings to life like a man hanging from a cliff by his fingers. The plant evolved during a period when Southern California resembled the savannas of Africa, and mega-fauna like mammoths, camels, giant ground sloths and sabre-tooth cats roamed the margins of a chain of enormous lakes stretching from Victorville to Las Vegas. At that time the plant relied on the abrasive action of the digestive tracts of herbivores to create cracks in the otherwise impenetrable outer coating of the seed, which is an adaptive trick to prevent the seed from germinating until it is ready to be deposited on the ground within a nurturing pile of dung. Without the giant herbivores of the Pleistocene the plant might go extinct, as there would be no way to ensure the right circumstance of abrasion and moisture to get the seed off to a good start. Though the big animals are now all vanished the plant has managed to hold on, finding tentative footing in the ecological niche of the desert arroyo, the one place nature has provided which serves as a suitable alternative to a camel’s gut. For when the flash floods arrive they wash the seed on a rugged ride down the impromptu river, chipping away at the external coating to deposit at last in a bank of soil rich in nutrients and moisture. A lucky last chance for a plant which gambled all on the stomachs of giants and found a lucky break in the flow of the flash flood.

~

Wilderness thoughts are like captured wild animals. You can secure them. Bring them back to the lab for study. But don’t get any ideas of taking them for a walk in the neighborhood or making them wear a cute sweater. They’ll have a finger if you’re not careful, before scampering off to the nearest park or open space. It’s best to let them be. To observe in their natural habitat. Like a bear meandering along a stream. Take a picture in your mind. Record in memory the wild notion in its natural habitat. Let the beast roam.

~

Going alone into the desert requires much energy and time. The gold miners of the past knew this; risking everything for a little precious ore. There’s still much of value out there now. Though you don’t need a pick, shovel or mule to get it. Just bring a hat, some water, and a small budget of time. No companions. Not even a dog. You may not even be able to share the treasure you’ll find. More precious than gold. More fleeting than life.

~

Yesterday’s desert hike left little impression at the time. Almost a disappointment, in fact. Yet in hindsight I resee those far and empty places. My thoughts come back to them over and again. *

~

Returning from solitary adventures in the mountains of Japan and the rugged landscape persisted in my head like an intimate and cloistered hideaway. The desert however, unfolds in the mind like a great and empty map; devoid of sanctuary, exposed and utterly impersonal. *

~

A principal of deserts is that winds blow into their depths, and point the way towards deeper desolation, and the arid, disinterested heart of the wastes. While standing upon a broad open plain at night, invisible mountains miles distant on either side, their outline visible only by the interruption of starlight through the cold, thin atmosphere, a slight veil between the bare, stony ground and outer space, I shiver alone and cold, feeling the dead desert breath draw me in like a tide. *

~

The melancholy peace, of a solitary walk in the deep desert, has found footing in my everyday sojourn. The dull, dim, yet alert and living eyes. The sensitive hearing. The slow, purposeful stride towards nowhere in particular, along unseen and unmarked paths. And best of all, the rich and empty thinking which comes of lonesome, yet not lonely, passage through strange, unpeopled places. *

~

The deep value of a solitary desert walk is the sobering recognition of a landscape and circumstance without any real escape. For though we may return to our warm bed and our fellows, the memory lingers of the cold night winds under the naked stars, and the blistering sunlight across a vast landscape without refuge. Such impressions gain deep footing and purchase within the mind, but only when we go alone, and only when we go so far as to glimpse the very real and near point of no return. *

Citations

* Included in “My Muse is a Corpse”

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