Short Story Sunday: Desert Talk

I just finished meditating on a massive red rock overlooking dry landscape, I was walking out of a conversation I was having with myself. I looked at my watch, 2pm. I was slightly distracted because a bee that wanted to crevice itself in my ear managed to stalk me for the majority of the afternoon. As I left my own conversation, I noticed an oddly shaded cloud that looked as if it was coming to engulf me, but it turned out that it was a cloud of thunder and rain pursuing it’s own objectives.

I came to Joshua Tree, California with my friends Alex and Brent, and while this massively unexpected cloud passed I looked for them through the dry heat. We all came here not knowing what to expect, we all had an idea that we may find one particular tree named Joshua but instead we were pleasantly surprised thousands of Joshua’s scattered around us. One thing we did have an agreement on was that we were coming here to reflect on ourselves.

It’s a spoken and unspoken word that when man ventures into the desert certain aspects about themselves becomes clear. These aspects show themselves at any time, and typically you find yourself wrapped in your own head thinking about you, your family, situations, and what could have been.

As I walked looking for the two I kept thinking about myself, I’m currently at a crossroads in my life. I live in a city that perpetuates confusion and I have an ambition that promotes creativity. I find myself jumping constantly from one thing to the next getting lost in the shuffle just to stay afloat. Many times I take on a new job and focus my attention towards elsewhere, all while neglecting my main objective, my situation and the people who surround me often negatively takes it toll.

I look down at my shoes, why didn’t I wear socks? I’m now climbing up a hill looking for Alex, a part of me wants to yell but I don’t want to disrupt nature, so I’ll keep quiet. I realize I’m aimlessly walking and I have no water, I’m getting tired and I need to drink something. The heat is also taking it’s toll on me, I’m now starting to wonder if the cloud I just saw was actually a rain cloud or if I was just seeing things. How long was I meditating on that rock for? I look at my watch, 3:18pm

I go on wondering if Alex and Brent are together or if they are looking for me. Suddenly, a familiar foe shows up, the bee. A sudden buzz shoots past my head, I stop in my place like an animal ready to attack, it flirts with various parts of my face- as it does SMACK - My gut reaction was to swat and I shot the bee somewhere to the ground, after a moment I finally recognized it laying on the ground mixed in with some dirt. I kept on my way.

I was making my way up hill, when I got to the top I knew it would open my vision to more landscape and hopefully point out someone. I had some worries set in because Alex had the car keys that had a apple and my water, I tried to keep my mind off both.

When I reached the top I saw no Alex, no Brent, just more earth. I was tired, and I had to sit down. As I sat there I thought more about my situation and how I could remedy it, I know what has to be done, I know what I want, and it’s just not happening. The feeling of my life started to set in and it wasn’t feeling good. Typically I’m a optimist and am able to weather any storm but have I met my match? Has life put me here to realize that I may be reaching my breaking point of what I can tolerate? I took a deep breath, stood up and continued to look.

I decided to back track a bit so I wouldn’t get too far off course. I noticed a series of stacked rocks all around me, they were too perfect to be mistakenly stacked, and someone before me must have done it. I wonder if it was Alex or Brent? For whatever reason I decided to stack a few more rocks making the stack up to my waste, I found it interesting because it was like a Jenga puzzle of nature, how or when would it fall?

Now I’m starting to need water, my mouth has gathered saliva around the outside. I start to laugh because I realize this trip to the desert is typical. Some guy who needs water can’t find it, I’ve willfully adhered to the moron in the desert. I couldn’t help but laugh. And it was just at that moment the next prototype of desert activity happened – “Buzzzzzzz.”

It’s back, but it had to be a mirage, the stalking desert bee was back. No way, first off I don’t think bees exist in the desert and second I killed it, maybe it was a friend of the bee? I heard when they die they send out a distress signal, I wish I had that power because right now I’m confused. I let the bee go, it just buzz’s, around and around my head. Again, it’s stalking me. Again I look at my watch, 5:12pm

Finally I’ve had it, I’m almost in tears, I stop. In my mind this is just icing for the cake. I’ve come here to look for clarity and I’m confused as ever, I can’t find anyone and I’m desperate. Apparently my real life has bled into my desert life, I can’t help but think it’s just me. Maybe I’m wired to be this way, always wondering and always confused about what exactly I’m doing. This very idea upsets me but maybe it’s something I should embrace.

I take a few more deep breathes with the bee circling my head, I look into the sky and all I can think about is conceding to the idea of needing help. I now know it, this is what my trip to the desert was for, it was for me to realize I’m confused and I need help. I’m not as strong as I once thought I was. Is my weakness something I can truly accept? Why can’t this just work out as I planned? I should be drinking my damn water by now!

It was at that exact breaking point I saw something. That something was Alex, he was about 500 yards away coming from another massive hill. In my most casual way I pointed at Alex as if I knew he would be walking towards me and he pointed back. I wondered where Brent was but I really didn’t care, I was just happy to see someone.

I sat on a rock while Alex made his journey over to me, as I sat a whirl of emotions took me over.

The bee, I didn’t hear it buzzing, was it gone? I suddenly did break into a few tears and my mind started to speak like it wasn’t me. I mentally had just put together a puzzle and a sense of relief came over me. I started to connect me looking at Alex and felt it wasn’t Alex, it was me. I just went on a journey.

The bee was a nuisance and I swatted it but it came back. The man made Jenga rocks, they were just being, and I added my touch to it. The cloud of rain was pleasant but brief. My path I just walked was long but eventually what I was looking for showed itself. Everything I just did was necessary to get to what I needed. My off course walk was long, winding, hot, and completely necessary.

My thoughts of mental weakness suddenly were alleviated and my need for water was slightly quenched. Just as I was about to submit to weakness my goal that I was looking for showed itself. It then became clearer that everything was existing on their own, it was my reaction which affected me, not them.

I sat a moment longer and wondered if I was over analyzing. I didn’t care, because this was my experience and this is what I wanted. I felt renewed in my life ventures. I thought life should not be dictated by your surroundings or what bothers you, the only thing that should dictate my life is myself.

As Alex approached he casually said:

“Good to see you, I got a little lost back there”

“Me too”

“It was definitely a little adventure”


Neither of us knew where Brent was but we made our way to the car. When we finally got there Brent was waiting.

Alex clicked open his car door and we all took our time grabbing the water.