It is our human nature to question, to seek, to understand, to wonder. And so I’ve spent years searching, “finding,” understanding myself. Yet we oft forget an essential fact – the sun is the center of our universe. With this in mind, I climbed a 2,000 ft sand dune at five in the morning, in the middle of the Erg Chebbi desert – Morocco. I decided to apply scientific theory to my personal spiritual quest. Can the sun be to my soul what it is to the universe? Can my soul – the center of all that I am, connect with the almighty sun?
Facing the start of a new day, surrounded by what seemed to be nothingness, was truly the closest I’ve ever felt to myself. There was incredible sound in silence, a supernova in darkness, scent in what seemed scentless. Time became a mere concept. With thirty minutes to reach the top. Thirty minutes and the sun’s first contact with the furtherest dune in the horizon would be missed. Time was everything yet it meant nothing. I had the rest of my life to continue seeking, yet thirty minutes to find. I knew the answer was sitting at the top of that golden carpet. And so I climbed…
I physically pushed my body to its extreme. 2,000 ft at five in the morning after hours of moonlit dancing, hash smoking, krakebs trance, chasing the sun seemed outrageous. I was well aware that I was not physically prepared for that climb, but I forced myself up with the promise of soulful gratitude. The trip would be complete if I sat atop an infinite carpet of sand to greet the new day. And so I climbed, for thirty minutes, I climbed. I talked to myself, I told myself I could do it. There were moments when I stopped, allowed my body to lay over the hill of sand and slowly sink in – breathe. During those seconds I wanted to give up, I wanted to just lay back and allow gravity to take control of my body and slide it down to the campsite. Instead, during those mere seconds, I came in contact with my inner self. I asked myself why I was holding back. I closed my eyes and allowed my need to see the sun take over. That was my answer, I needed to see the sun to feel complete. Not fully complete and eternally happy, but a step towards the right direction.
My face was buried in the sand. The sediments quickened around me, outlining my body, and I started to sink. That’s when I learned it was possible to tap into yourself for strength. Not physical strength but the mental strength that soothes all negative thoughts. It was almost as if I tapped into my own source of mental energy. My own source of mental power. I had found my source of comforting strength. Suddenly, I was trice the athletic person I was, compared to when I started climbing. I had all of this energy and this exploding urge to continue. And I made it, I was the first person to get to the top. I sat there, hyperventilating, darkness slowly closing in. Immobile save my chest, which fought alongside adrenaline to expand and contract. Seconds later I managed to control my breathing, and when I came to my senses, I looked around.
Tapping into yourself is highly exhausting, it requires a level of mental insight that causes a surge of adrenaline, and once that adrenaline is gone, we are left wasted. I looked around and my eyes could not see where the mass of sand ended. The mass of deep yellow, a carpet of waves, a sea of gold. I was dumbfounded. I recalled the night before when we approached our campsite on camels, and remembered seeing the sand, but it’s beauty was hidden under the moonlight. Collecting my awe, I finally decided to control what I was there for: the sun. I made myself comfortable, sitting cross-legged and simply looked forward. There it was, in all it’s might, the sun, as large as I had ever seen it. Slowly, creeping up from behind a sand dune that was nearly double the one I was sitting on.
I looked at my phone for the time, 6:15am. Everything was completely silent. The people who climbed with me each found their own spot on the dune, secluding themselves as I had done. It was almost a silent agreement, everyone wanted to experience the sunrise with themselves, with their inner self. I stared, and stared, and allowed my eyes to follow the sun’s movement, slowly rising. The deep yellow carpet was now becoming a bright blooming gold, shining effortlessly under the sun’s gaze. Each ray of light was clearly visible. My vision was suddenly clearer, despite the fact that my contacts were dry. That was the first sign that my inner self was surfacing. My eyes no longer felt the need to blink. Fear of losing a split second, gave them the strength to remain passively staring.
In the midst of the sun’s beauty I felt a familiar comfort. A familiar feeling that everything was going to be okay. I heard a voice, that didn’t come from my surrounding, but from within. Deep inside I heard a faint voice, that was fighting against reality to be heard. She was telling me, over and over, “This is where happiness lies, this is where you will find what you seek.” Over and over I heard the voice, it grew louder as the sun rose. I had found my happiness, it was inside of me. Now I simply needed to learn how to nurture it. How to allow it to rise, like the sun rose that morning in Africa. Like a plant, I needed to feed it and allow it to bloom. My inner voice told me nothing more than where to look. It did not tell me how to be happy, or what to do to get to that point, but I knew where it was.
The sun rose over the dune, as my inner happiness peeked out and smiled at me. I sat there even after the sun had completely taken over the sky, and vouched that I would not give up until my happiness had completely taken over me. I wanted to feel my own radiating happiness the same way the sun bathed me with warmth. I mentally smiled at myself, and thanked myself for the revelation. Then I realized why the strength was so familiar, why that voice was so familiar. The voice I heard was my grandmother’s voice, who I lost before embarking on this journey abroad. She was there beside me, helping me visualize the journey I was yet to embark on.
My inner happiness took the form of my grandmother’s voice to give me the comfort I always received from her. I knew I could trust that voice, because I trusted my grandmother. She was the strongest woman I’d ever met, and I looked up to her strength in hopes to one day become as strong. My inner self simply wanted to show me just how possible and real that accomplishment was. “Search no longer,” she was telling me, “this is where true happiness lies, this is where you will find what you seek.”
Being up there felt endless. There was this lingering sense that if I remained very still, and sat there forever, I would be forever happy. If I allowed the sun to overcome my fears, to push away my negative feelings, then I would be eternally happy. But my inner self was not going to give herself up that easily. Happiness cannot be handed, it must be earned. That morning I learned that in order to earn happiness, I must learn to fulfill, and in order to fulfill I must learn to understand that needs must suffice. Whether it was a higher power, or my grandmother, I knew that I was on the right path. I knew I could be happy, that the definition did exist, and that it was a personal feeling. A life lasting feeling of simply not needing.
I stayed in place for a few more minutes, formulating a plan. I decided that morning that I was going to allow my inner voice to guide me through life to fulfill whatever needs I deemed important, thus achieve a feeling of material content. Once my material needs were met, I would focus on my spiritual need. Not the need of answering philosophical questions regarding existence, but a more tangible questions as to my purpose in this life. My grandmother’s voice urged me to look within myself and find my true talent, and follow that talent into a purposeful career, fulfilling all my material needs as a human being.
The voice told me to keep my heart open, because that was where my happiness would travel to. I learned that morning that the voice you hear in your mind, is clouded with stereotype, negativity, and societal views. It is the voice of consciousness that some mistake for the voice of reason. That voice urges you to take the safe job, that leads to a safe career with the promise of a stable income and a secure position. That’s the voice that turns ballerinas into doctors, or a college student who dreams of being an engineer into a stay at home mother. That’s the voice of safety, but my grandmother’s voice explained that safety merely brings comfort, not true happiness. Voice of consciousness protects the body from trial and error, because one cannot do wrong if he never tries. The voice of reason provides the illusion of true happiness with temporary happiness. When a person feels momentarily happy, looking at their savings, or momentarily happy when they look at their large home. But when that person lays in bed at night, they aren’t comforted by their inner voice. They loyally followed their voice of reason, obscuring their only way to be happy. In turn, they find themselves in the dark, longing. Wishing, wanting, needing more.
My familiar voice begged me not to be that way. As I fumbled to get up, and make my way down, sinking deeper into the sand, I felt my chest squeeze. I was out of air, and looked up to the sun seeking an answer. I was confronted with the fact that although I had heard my inner voice, that I finally understood where true happiness comes from, I did not know where to begin. How was I going to find my talent? How was I going to stay away from my voice of reason, who was telling me to settle for a job that paid enough to survive? “Simple,” her voice said, “You are going to follow the signs, you are going to keep the tunnel open between your physical self and your inner self; you are going to listen to your heart, and merely allow your mind to rationalize your surroundings, but above all, you are going to look into yourself and find out what true needs will suffice.” At first, I did not understand what it meant “for needs to suffice,” being that I was aware of how insatiable we humans are.
Under the beaming sun I learned, that I must allow my inner self to rise like the sun, satiate all human need, and fill my soul with rays as it did in that desert on that one spring day.
© 2013 Stephanie Alfaia Gomes All Rights Reserved