Beach, Mountain, Forest, or somewhere else entirely?
Some of us like adventure. I like adventure (or I like to tell myself that I do). I have fantasies of being proposed to just before I leap out of a plane skydiving. I am extremely jealous of the dude in Rudimental + Emeli Sande’s ‘Free’ Video (take time out to watch it!). Sometimes all I want to do is skip my classes and just enter a bus and drop at whatever bus stop and take pictures and laugh with random pub drinkers and interview night workers. But life has a way of stifling your adventurous soul… especially if you grow up to become a responsible adult with a thinking rational brain. Yes kids, don’t ever grow up to be responsible. It’s the biggest trap.
I have always imagined, however, that everyone shared this same adventurous fantasies with me… until I interviewed Goodness. Goodness is a young undergraduate of the University of Lagos – she’s quite younger than me, so I expected that she’d give an even more brain-dazzling adventurous reply to this prompt.
But as she impatiently fiddled with the earphones she had removed to grant the interview, she simply said, ‘The Desert’. I was apparently taken aback as I said, ‘Desert?’ She said, ‘Yup’ and went ahead to give her reasons. ‘I think the desert would be a really interesting place’ she said matter-of-factly. ‘From the bible view of the desert, you can see that anyone who goes into the desert always has an encounter with God’. ‘Oh’, I thought, ‘So that’s what this is about.’
So I asked, ‘So, do you feel like you need to have an encounter with God in your life? Is there something you specifically have to meet with God for?’ Dodging my question like most of these young people do, she said, ‘The desert is different from all other places in the world. Something always happens in the desert. In fact, anything is possible in a desert.’
You’re probably frowning or rolling your eyes like I was (in my mind) during the interview. I decided to ask pointedly, ‘So you prefer an encounter to an adventure. Think of the forests, the amazing possibilities there. Think of the mountains and the ocean. Have you ever just stood on the shores and watched the sun set?’ She nodded as I spoke, surprisingly patient with me (unlike these young people are). When I was done, she said, ‘One, I hate trees. I just feel like so many things are attached to them, so forests are out of it for me. Then also, the ocean – from watching Barbie I can tell that the ocean is an interesting place to be in, more specifically, the center of the ocean. If you stand on the shore, there’s not so much fun in it. But I can’t be in the center of the ocean because the water is cold. Then the mountains, I am scared of heights. When I went to Olumo rock, I was so scared. What if someone falls down? Ah!’
Then in a different and slightly enraptured tone she said, ‘But the desert? I want to go there and go there alone. I want to see the dried bones of dead people. I know I can’t die there because Jesus did not die there. I want to see the face of God. That would be a once in a lifetime encounter. And yes, people say that people die in the desert because there’s no food. But they don’t know that there are trees that bring out food and there’s water – it’s just that it might be hard to find. I want to also see the rattlesnake because it forms an ‘S’ shape when it moves. The desert just has too many interesting features’
I just kept nodding. But you see, in all her desert advertising (some of which I really doubt their verity) I learnt some things: I learned that a place of dryness is not a place of condemnation unless you choose to see it as that; that you were deserted does not mean you’re not a beauty to behold and a thing of wide-eyed interest to other people; that you’re old and wrinkled doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer the world anymore; and finally, that when you find yourself in a place of thirst and dryness, you should be strong enough to pant after something bigger than your thirst.