breathing slows. I lay open, vulnerable,
Somewhere there in the dark,
everything physical falls away. It feels
as if I am floating peacefully—free,
light, and alone.
But just as quickly as calm comes,
so, too, follows a familiar despair. An
unbearable heaviness swallows me,
abrupt and all-consuming.
I am drowning. Suffocating.
Am I truly alone?
The silence is deafening, so much
so that I am certain none of my fellow
travelers are still by my side.
I want to open my eyes to confirm
that I am in the same place, on the
same rocks, with the same people. But
I am terrified I will open them only to
find I am truly lying alone in the dark
desert—or worse, in an unending
I don’t open my eyes.
Something opens up in me.
Just beyond the oppressive anxiety
is something more, something new. As
I consider that I may indeed be lying
all alone in the Jordanian desert, I hear
You’re not alone.
It isn’t a voice in the audible sense,
but it’s a clear message. It’s meant for
me. I hear it. I feel it. I believe it.
In that instant, the fear fades and
I float on, weightless, bodiless, and
blissful in the realization that I could
not and had not ever been alone.
I am of the light, and I am the light.
No longer drowning in despair, I
breathe in this truth.
When I finally open my eyes, it is
indeed darker all around me. But my
fellow travelers and our yoga instructor
are still there on their mats, some
chatting together softly.
I sit up, slowly returning to my
body. Tilting my head back, I find
the delicate glimmer of stars gently
galvanizing the night sky. When I
bring my gaze down to the horizon
again, my eyes are met with the faint
glow of candles dotting a camp in
How long was I gone?
The breeze playfully pushes my hair
around my face, and I laugh aloud.
No matter. I am back. I am alive. I
will never be the same.
I glance toward the traveler seated
on her mat next to me. Squinting
in the twilight, I scan her face for
any indication that she, too, had—
unintentionally or otherwise—
stumbled into the depths of the dark
to discover the light.
I wish to grab hold of her and
tell her everything. But I bite my
tongue, realizing I know not what
words will ever adequately convey the
extraordinary journey I’ve just taken
while my body lay silent and supine
on the sandstone beside her.
I slide my sandals on and rise to my
feet, rolling up my yoga mat and my
secret in it.
My fellow travelers and our
instructor start back in the direction
of our camp, but I’m compelled to
stay a brief moment more. I look to
the stones under my feet then out
once more toward the rock tops in the
distance, now just smudged silhouettes
barely distinguishable in the blue-black
I’ve come all the way round the world
only to find my way back home.
“Thank you,” I whisper reverently to
the darkness, my words carried swiftly
away on the wind.
Gratitude pours over me—
permeating every cell and crevice
within, then spreads outward,
interlacing me to the expansive
desert landscape, the endless night
sky, the stars above, the stones below,
the air around me. I am anchored
yet untethered. Insignificant
yet immeasurable. Nothing and