October 2018….my two friends and I decided to do a little something crazy and hit the road to Namibia. My non-South African friends, let me give you a little background : Namibia is a neighboring country of South Africa and it is a 27 hours drive from where we were traveling (Pretoria). Planes flying to Namibia are few and if you do find a plane, it is VERY expensive. There are two ways to access Namibia: one can drive via Northern Cape province and Northern Cape itself is very far or via Botswana, meaning that one is going to drive throughout the day and night, depending on the time that you depart. We departed at 4am and reached the border of Namibia at 11pm.
We spent the night at a lodge at the border and at 3am we decided to hit the road, because we were still far from our destination.
We reached our destination at 1pm. We had lunch in Swakopmunt and after that we were off to Namib desert. When I was walking barefoot in the desert sand and playing on the sand dunes I knew that it was worth it. Before going to Namibia when I heard the word “desert” the first thought that came to my mind was a dry, barren place. No life. Heat. Hardship. Anything but a beautiful place. Going to Namib desert changed my view of the desert. To me, the desert is a place of refinement, strengthening, solitude and a place where one takes a break from life and mystery. The desert is beautiful. Its beauty is not out there where the world can get to see it anytime, it’s only those who will actually go and spend time in the desert who will know and appreciate its beauty.
As a 31 year old I haven’t been lucky in love. If I had to share my stories you would think that I have been jinxed. I would interact with people on social media and when I do meet up with folks in real life then they would be distant. Never hear from them again. Or I would meet people in real life and the interaction would go on for a while and then it would stop. People would grow distant. Withdraw.
I was at point where I have been asking myself lately what exactly is wrong with me. Am I that ugly that when folks meet me in real life then they end up disappointed to a point where they “run away”? Am I too loud? Am I pompous and arrogant? Am I too dramatic? Am I too full of myself to an extent where people feel uncomfortable? Am I doing something unaware, thus pushing people away? What exactly is wrong with me?
I remember praying and asking Hashem what exactly is wrong with me…. I remember asking Him to point out my flaws and to change me to be better. Instead of listing all my flaws and show me what to do to improve He did something else instead: He brought an image to my mind where I was in Namib desert. Where I was dancing barefoot with my oversized headscarf. He reminded me how I was awestruck by the desert’s beauty and where I even told Him that I wouldn’t mind living in the desert for a few years. He reminded me how I loathed the desert before I actually went there. He reminded me how I changed my view after I spent time in Namib desert and how I appreciated its beauty when I returned to my home country.
In that instant when He showed me the image where I was dancing in the desert, He made it clear to me: I am a desert.
I am a desert. Just like the desert I am not out there where the whole world can reach me at anytime and I do not not have an obvious beauty where the world is awestruck. I am not pretty, far from it but I do have a beautiful soul and brain. Pure spirit and even though I am transparent I am still a mystery. Just as I traveled hours and hours to just spend a few hours in the desert, it’s only those who deserves to be in my life who will take the effort to get to know me, understand me and not be overwhelmed by me. I am one flawed human being and for those who do not understand me I may be a mess but I am a pretty mess. It’s only a few who will actually go to the desert and appreciate its own unique beauty…… It’s only a few who will appreciate me for who and what I am.
Funny enough, when that realization hit me, I was comforted with a sad peace. Sad, because I now realize that I am more likely to walk a lonely path, peaceful at the same time, because as I get to know and understand myself more, I realize that Hashem made me a specific way and since He made me a specific way that means He will equip me for whatever He has in store for me.
I am at a point where I realize that there are two possibilities in store for me:
I may fall in love and actually be loved back and have that person to spend the rest of my life with or I may be destined to be single till I breathe out my last breath. Both possibilities excites and scares me at the same time since both have its pros and cons…. But both possibilities leave me at peace. I am learning to be content each and every day.
It is no easy path. Some days I do cry my eyes out (like now, as I am typing this) asking myself what exactly is wrong with me…. And then I am comforted by a broken yet whole woman dancing barefoot in the desert with an oversized headscarf and the wind gently drapes the scarf over her sunburned skin. That is me. I am a desert.