“Traveling makes one modest — you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” –Gustave Flaubert / Flaubert in Egypt (1849)
If you’ve ever experienced deafening silence while surrounded by nature, you’ll agree with the above quotation. For the first time in many years, I was forced to disconnect from technology while in Jordan. Although I was only “off the grid” for a short 24-hour period, I suddenly felt rejuvenated and at peace with myself.
Alone with my thoughts in the vast Wadi Rum desert, I listened to the occasional sounds of a Bedouin singing to his camel and the wind rustling the bright orange sand. Life really is beautiful, and riding in the desert on a camel makes you appreciate the simplistic way of living. Connections to people, nature and animals are so important for our well-being, and often technology causes us to become secluded. The majority of us should make it a priority to get off social media, our computers, or whatever it is that consumes your time, and truly start living.
The mountains of Wadi Rum also allowed me to realize that you can truly do anything you want, fear is the source that holds you back. During the first day in Wadi Rum I felt free. I tackled my fear of climbing a steep mountain to stand in the center of a narrow natural bridge. Holding the hand of my Bedouin guide, we reached the center of the bridge. My palms were sweaty and I was sure that I would topple over. He squeezed my wrist, looked into my eyes and exclaimed, “You did it!” There’s nothing more exhilarating than standing on a mountain top and conquering your fears.
I also realized in Wadi Rum just how important it is to relax and take in your natural surroundings. The vast desert and huge mountains have a way of whispering to you, “Slow down. You’re small. Don’t let this big world swallow you up.” After hiking through mountains and sand dunes, I spent the evening in Wadi Rum laying on a blanket next to my Bedouin guide and best friend Courtney. Khaled pointed to the sky and asked us, “Have you ever seen stars like this?” I shook my head while looking up at the bright blanket of stars covering the sky. What a stunning sight. That night I even lost count of the number of shooting stars I witnessed falling from their position in the dark sky. I’m sure the stars saw me, too. Just a tiny speck sitting in the middle of the desert.
I’ll never forget the weekend camping in the desert with Bedouins, and running down orange sand dunes while the mountain wind danced with my hair. The feeling of freedom and adjusted perception of my place in this huge world are two things Wadi Rum taught me during my travels.