Lessons from the Mojave Desert

I’m still rockin’ it with the American Conservation Experience in sunny SoCal. However, these past 2 months I have been camping out under the stars in the Mojave Desert neighboring Red Mountain.

The desert is a beautiful place- clear skies, bright stars, silence, high winds and heavy heat. It is both magnificent and monotonous. I find myself staring at fractured quartz crystals for hours, forgetting about the vertical mulching work that needs to be done. The days can be long and hard, but when surrounded by loving and appreciative folks, it is the only place on earth I want to be.

2 months is a long time. It allows time for patience and solitude and listening. There are mornings I decide to listen to the silence between wind gusts rather than my folk playlist on Spotify I downloaded before leaving the land of cell reception and wifi. Those mornings I watch the creosotes blossom and dance and hear their branches create squeaky tunes.

So what did I take away from these moments of listening??

>> Slow and Steady– There is no rush when there is a journey without a destination. I take my time making the best vertical mulches I can because my work is important to me. I want to protect the desert tortoise habitat as best I can. I signed up for 3 months of work and there is no desire to race through these months to end up back where I started- curious with no direction.

>> Patience- along with slow and steady, allowing time for adjustments and change is important. I allow my body time to correct sub-par blood glucose levels; I allow myself an entire 15 min to recover from a low because that is what my body needs. I allow myself to walk at my own pace in my work; I do not rush to get the job done.

>>Beauty is everywhere and inevitable- Look up and look around you. I am in a desert paradise; I am able to live and work everyday in a place few know about; the Mojave has took years to form through multiple tectonic events to create the masterpiece that lies before me. Take a moment to appreciate the place you are in because your daily grind is someone else’s paradise and dream.

>>Love and care for yourself- it is hot, actually it is quite hot. You will sweat. You will lose water and salt and nutrients quickly out here. Don’t worry about this higher loss you have to compensate for with higher intakes. You will need upwards of 16L of water/day, lots of salty snacks every couple hours, and a constant delivery of electrolytes through tabs, chews or drink powders. Give yourself what your body needs, not what you want your body to need.

^^^Just me and JP taking a snack break, eating some clementines, refueling our body in the little shade our work truck provides.

>> Optimism is a choice – Working 10 hour monotonous days can be straining on one’s mentality. We can combat this, by choosing to see a positive light. I am able to take my time for a project I care deeply about. I am lucky and thankful to be in this beautiful desert. I am surrounded my abundant love and support from my crew members/ peers. I am content in the present and doing this work. Every day is a new challenge and a new moment is always on the horizon. Choose to be content with your situation. You either have to put effort into being content/happy OR being upset/pessimistic. Choose your moods wisely.

I hope these words and images inspire you to visit the desert and appreciate your local landscape. The Mojave is a physical manifestation of meditation I carry in my soul now. Here’s some more rad views I’ve been thankful to see:

 

-amanda

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