A desert can be broadly defined as any place lacking in something.
Words used to describe a desert include arid, desolate, lonely, uninhabited, solitary, wild, unproductive, untilled
While in Zion, I ran in the desert, ran. I did not have to stay there. I had support there. Constant food, words, water, clothing, shoes. All that I needed. More than I needed. The same intensity that drives me to run can also bring me to some tough low places sometimes, some desert places. I do not think I want to change that. Even with the best laid plans, expectations and details, I may be in the desert longer than I have planned.
As an ultra runner, my desert times seem to come after I have finished the race. There is so much time, care, planning, experimenting and energy that go into preparing for an ultra, months, weeks, days, hours. After I finish a race, I rest on a high for at least a week. I feel super human. I look at my body with a new sense of respect and love. I think about what just happened and bounce back between “never again!” and “what’s next?” There IS something tangible about training for a race, making plans and achieving your grandest racing expectations for the moment. (It is making me smile right now.) It’s been about this thing, this goal, building and building for months. I eat to run. I dress to run. I exist to run. I love this quote from FEARLESS by Max Lucado,
Pat prefers biking to breathing. To him biking is breathing.
Just substitute “running” for me.
Then, the crowd disappears. It’s not “supermom”, it’s back to being mom. It’s not “superwoman” it’s back to being woman. It’s a steeper step than I am prepared to step down and I lose my footing and fall. What does my desert look like? Sad. Empty. Fragmented. Sometimes I try to minimize the high’s so that the foreseeable low isn’t as exhausting.
“But there is such beauty in the desert”, . . a friend told me, when I was struggling with the low. The brilliance of the colors. The expanse of the space. The richness of the sunset. My small body against the height of the mountains. Moments in the desert took my breath away.
I like the idea of the desert as a metaphor. I just have to keep in mind that it is not always harsh and extreme. It can be beautiful and leave you with a loss for words.
I want to end with this “personality test” called, “The Desert”, simple yet profound. I would love to read your feedback on your desert times as well as your answer to this desert test.