A Desert, A Being, and a Need

comments 17
Christ / Course Ideas / Poetry

A self is a heavy burden
to carry with you
across the desert.
Despite being invisible
and weightless in principle,
it is the often overlooked,
but necessary battery
of accoutrements
that are required to
render the self
manifest and functional
that take their toll.
There is the steamer trunk
full of historical data, for instance,
with its rather robust
coefficient of sliding friction
across the hot sand–
the modern take on an old classic,
a ballistic nylon upholstered
carbon fiber case
with kevlar bottom
and shattered mounts
where the useless spindled wheels
lopped off in the last existential crisis
once resided.  The trunk
contains all of the
maps, slides, instruction manuals,
theory books, server racks,
fold-out solar panels,
instrumentation, servo motors,
coiled wires, oscillators,
piezoelectric crystals,
spy glasses,
solar flare almanacs,
pirated algorithms,
notes to self by self,
torn out journal articles,
scribbled judgments, conclusions,
and prognostications that
the self has accumulated
over time.

Without those,
the leather bound
book of procedures
with the locking gold clasp–
procedures such as the
Instructions for
Masking the Scents
of Your Passage
From Skulking Bands
of Rabid Coyotes, or
The Stepwise Chymical
Reactions Used in the Production
of Rattlesnake Anti-Venom
would be all but useless.
And without that book, well…
as the rules of a self dictate,
all would be lost.

It is the self, after all,
who takes care of things–
keeps track of how many steps
are taken in a day,
weighs the count against
your physical capabilities
and the weight of what
lies ahead, understands
the quantity of calories
required to facilitate
your continued progress,
maintains the log
of the distance
already covered.
(If only the book
contained a procedure
for determining
the distance remaining…)

A self is a heavy burden
to carry with you
in such a place,
too much, in fact–
an assurance of failure,
notwithstanding the fact
it’s sole stated purpose
is to the contrary.

What remains
when the self is discarded
is a field of experience
consisting of a desert, a being,
and a need that has been
released from its shell.
The being and the desert
will feel the need and respond.
Stars will feel the need
and twinkle to life in the skies above,
raining ten thousand years
of possibilities upon the
being and the desert.
The earth below the desert
will feel the need
and place those possibilities
in her timeless womb.
At dawn, the being will walk
over the next rise
to find the stone
placed there by the desert.
The being will tap
on the stone
and the stone
will yield water
from the earth.

Neither the being
nor the desert
nor the water
nor the stars
nor the earth
will think of this
as a sign
of worthiness,
or a product of chance,
for it takes
a self to entertain
that sort of interpretation,
and there are none to be found.

there will be
a field of experience
consisting of a desert, an earth,
a being, a stone, the stars, water,
a bird,
and a need.

It is not hard
to imagine what happens next,
for this is how it began
and always will be.


    • Thank you, Sarah. I guess we’d all have a few different odds and ends in our egoic self kits! Though when push comes to shove the self that views and experiences the world from the condition of separateness is kind of like the anti-MacGyver: there’s all sorts of cool toys in the box, but that particular self is incapable of using them to figure out how to be in charge AND trick experience into revealing the condition of unity!



  1. ~meredith says

    “It is not hard
    to imagine what happens next,
    for this is how it began
    and always will be.”



  2. Clever and thoughtful post Michael. And yet, it’s hard for me to imagine what happens next in your post or my life. I often feel lost in the dessert of possibility, much like your ending. I don’t see the next step. 😦


    • Hi Brad,

      I can certainly relate. I think part of the realization I was attempting to convey is that what happens next is everything, as Love responds to Love. On an individual level I find I get most tied in knots when thinking there is something specific that needs to be done, or that I should be doing, etc., but we’re also in some way the expression of all of it. There is no right answer. Once we extend the willingness to give and receive that which is ours to give and receive, I think the specifics have a way of taking care of themselves. Not in the sense that we become idle, but in the sense that we enter the stream of life and respond to what arises within and around us. And part of this is emphasizing the way in which we can experience the lives we live as integral to the greater field of experience in which we abide.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Michael, Your answer was most helpful. I tend to think there is one best choice, even though I’ve been getting whispers to the contrary for a couple of years. Then I get stuck in analysis and/ or fear. As you mentioned, it’s best to respond to life in action or motion. Thanks! 🙂


  3. “Don’t seek the water; increase your thirst,
    so water may gush forth from above and below.
    Until the tender-throated babe is born,
    how should the milk for it
    flow from the mother’s breast?” – your friend, Rumi

    Ready for a Thelma and Louise steamer trunk cliff moment around here 🙂


    • A perfect selection for the mood of recent times, Marga. Rumi is such a treasure and companion. Yes, there is a certain going off the map afoot, one I am not entirely sure how to navigate at the moment, or if any navigating is even required. It is starting to feel like one way or the other, a movement is going to occur. Even the land seems to be in on it, imitating the river… I’m building up quite a thirst… 🙂



  4. Thank you. Another gentle re-membering of the Truth.
    I am so blessed to be on the receiving end of your inspiration. It feeds my soul every time.
    Thank you Michael. Thank you Life.
    Alison ❤


    • Thank you, Alison. I appreciate your note very much and the blessing and soul feeding is mutual, as of course that is the only way it can be. Our hearts sail on in grace…



  5. Pingback: Finding the Flow | writing to freedom

  6. Your words made me think of this song from one of my very favourite films Michael. If you know the film Bagdad Café, you’ll be aware that it’s about selflessness, communality, and returning to ourselves through loving, giving and acceptance.



    • Thank you for that, Hariod. That song belongs on a lullaby play list. I was completely relaxed by the time it wound up, as if I could have dove straight off the couch and through a puddle of dreams that had appeared on the floor. I will have to put the movie on the list. I don’t want to mislead you, however, I don’t actually have a list… Just a lot of colored balls with scribbled notes on them flying around in the ol’ mental atmosphere. 🙂

      I endeavored to make an appointment with myself to discuss terms of resolution, but was told the terms are non-negotiable and that the only path forward is through my agent Hafiz on account of my past acts of wanton non-beingness. The way this works is we both pick out an instrument we’ve never played before, and we communicate to one other through those devices. It’s quite enjoyable, really. I have selected the musical saw, and Hafiz a dog whistle.



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