One insightful way of hiking in the wilderness is to have no destination. It is exploring without seeking an outcome. I think this is why I like to wander away from the beaten path. We are taught to have defined goals, and that has its place. But I find a trek to be more enjoyable with a bit of aimlessness—and the desert is a wonderful place to wander aimlessly. With few trails to define the journey, one has to be resourceful and willing to experience pure inquiry. When I wander the desert and experience the vast unending vistas, the sage and sky become inseparable, almost indistinguishable.
Although I have a botanist’s nose and a geologist’s eye, I can let those filters drop away and allow a wildflower or stone to speak its truth. Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” I think this is the essence of pure inquiry, clarity, or unfiltered awareness. One simply rests with what is, what seems to appear in one’s thoughts as reflected in what we call outer reality. When we rest in this pure awareness, we repeatedly witness miracles, those experiences that fly in the face of logical explanation. If we insist on evaluating, assigning some kind of personal value to everything we experience, we really experience nothing. But if we observe without placing valuation, we are free of our filters and can let things be as they are. We experience everything.
Krishnamurti also suggested, “You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life.” So I dance in the desert and look at the skies. Words flow from my pen or the keyboard and form into prose or poetry, or both at the same time. I experience the ups and downs of life—and hope I have gained some understanding. The most important thing is to have appreciation for all of it, not just the parts that seem ‘beautiful’.
To wonder like a child wonders, without having already drawn some conclusion—this is the most fulfilling experience of love. This love has no limitations because it not based on any value. It is priceless.