A perfect ratio
“There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide, free, open, generous spacing among plants and animals…There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.” — Edward Abbey
Sometimes we make the mistake of seeing deficits in any situation that lacks the elements to which we are most accustomed. Thus a geographic region, a climate, a culture, a house or even a person may seem inadequate to us, when it’s actually our perception that needs adjusting.
I don’t count myself among those who love the desert, but I must admit that there’s a singular beauty in wide panoramas of sand, uninterrupted by the water, trees and flowers I normally prefer. There’s a sort of mental cleansing that happens when one is in such an environment, which complements the physical exertion of walking in sand. Climbing a high dune often ends in a breathlessness that is quite fitting to the expansive view that rewards plodding to the top. If the dunes are adjacent to water, a stunning combination of sand, sea and sky stretches as far as the eye can see.
If you are fortunate enough to live near such an area, you might find a quick outing there is a perfect antidote to the overwhelming stimulation of contemporary life. If you are too far away to visit a desert or dune in person, a bit of the same serenity can be found in any area free of visual distractions and noise. Some of the long, monochromatic and unadorned hallways of the massive medical center where Jeff spent so much time this past year provided me with a refreshing break when I would stroll through them in the evenings after most employees had left for the day.
What we usually might see as barren can be a balm to the soul when we feel bombarded with too much to process in too short a time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I wish you an expansive place of quiet where you can escape, even if only briefly, to a perfect ratio of less and more.
One year ago today: