The Guardian in the Desert

"What is your purpose in life? Do you know?"

Asked Karim, my guide. ••


I believe in guardian angels. It's weird. Not like flying goddesses with wings or anything. More like people. Guardian angels are people whose wisdom and virtue guide me. I come across these people from all walks of life. Their wisdom is unsolicited. their wisdom is genuine. They gain nothing from sharing. They suggest rather than direct. They simply open doors. It wasn't easy to find Karim. He wants it to be difficult. He's been in the guide business for over 25 years working up and down the food chain of the industry. At 51 he finds peace in simplicity. What makes him most happy is to be outside, to show people around, but not in a client-service way. He wants to be the friend in a town you've never been to that's happy to have fun with you in your exploration. He realizes that he's one of the few people who give out tours in the region so he gets a lot of calls. Having a caravan becomes less personal and thus disturb the balance for him. So he keeps it small and simple. I admire that. We took off from the hotel in Mizaira'a in his SUV, dune bashed, visited a camel farm, set up camp, wandered on foot, learned about the ecosystem of the desert. There were 2 french families on board the trip and one lil me. It wasn't easy to communicate. None of the other peeps spoke English. The desert itself was big and amazing. I think the pictures better describe it than words. I personally find its vast emptiness spiritual. After a really ass kicking BBQ dinner, we sat around a firepit sipping tea with dates, chatting, watching the stars. Karim had just finished writing a memoir of sort. It was 10 pages long. He's going to probably move to the Philippines to retire with his wife when the young one finishes school. His older daughter wants to be a flight attendant and his son is trying to get into showbiz in the Philippines. He worries about his son riding on the good looks of being part German, part Egyptian, part Filipino rather than having real skills to work the industry. He talks about the commitment of a family - that once you are in it you should never, ever abandon it. If you really must, wait till the kids leave the nest. He's been with his wife for 23 years. I admire that. He has a purpose. His purpose is, in his own words, "to be purposeful to others." He believes it.

When he asked about what brought me to the desert, I simplified the answer. I was soul searching. I've always face my fear with everything I do. Except for when it comes to love. I'm one foot in one foot out. He said: go immerse yourself in a situation where people are less fortunate than you. Start there. You may find what you are looking for. I jokingly asked if I should start screening my suitors with the question "what is your purpose in life?" He laughed. "Yes. You want someone who has thought about his purpose and can articulate it."


That night when all have retreated to their chambers, I climbed a big sand dune, sat under the big open sky, and meditated. It's a skill i learned from my mother i only came to appreciate later. The air was cool. The wind was calm. The silence was indescribably beautiful. You can see a small glow from Saudi Arabian military border light far in the horizon. I closed my eyes. With every full deep yogi breath I counted 1, 2, 3, .. to 100. If I catch my thought wander off at any point, I have to make up with additional 10 breathes at that count. When my eyes opened again, I felt like the little beetle just shed a layer of her shell.
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