The desert always seemed intriguing. A place where one went to disappear and could emerge from with epiphanies. The vast emptiness giving you nothing, but the opportunity to think. What you’re not prepared for is the heat. Of course the desert is hot, everyone knows that. But until you experience it, you’re not prepared for the kind of heat that could melt a mind.
I drove out there a couple times with only a guitar expecting to write the next great country western song, but leaving with nothing but a parched throat.
There are those that have found inspiration in the dryness, I know this to be true for I have witnessed it.
Once I went to the desert with some friends. We camped out under the stars keeping our eyes open for road runners and coyotes. The weekend went fast and before a drive back to the city where jobs and bills awaited we decided to take one last hike. We got a late start. Even with a hat and a hefty bottle of water it was foolish to test this sun. No one else was on the trail. We had begun too late and the desert had its way with us.
Close to the peak, there was a vista. You could see armies and armies of Joshua trees marching all the way to the Mexican border. That image is etched permanently in my mind, but so is another image. I was surprised to see we were not alone on the peak. There was a young bearded guy, not just without a hat, but without a shirt. He had on his pants and shoes and a smile on his face that said if it is not the sun that had done him in, it was a couple tabs of LSD or perhaps a button of peyote.
But what was most interesting about this solitary figure were the papers held down by a rock to his side. In his hand was another piece of paper he was filling furiously with ink. I believe as we walked by him we nodded in his direction and gave him salutations. He did not acknowledge us. He just kept writing. And as we passed him I could see the pages were loaded with words. There was more writing on those papers than there was blank space. To this day I wonder what secrets laid on them and if the bearded man ever made it down from the mountain.