Here I am at last, living in the landscape I’ve craved since the first time I drove across the country. Twenty years ago, the desert appeared through my windshield, and it felt like driving into a cartoon: a yellow rectangle beneath a block of electric blue. To my Midwestern mind, accustomed to damp fields and pale skies, the Mojave was another planet. Although I was only twenty-five years old and not yet thinking about god or regret or reinvention, I heard a spiritual hum beneath the silence of the mountains. Tribes of dune buggies crawled across the dunes, and I thought I saw the future. I’m going to live here someday, I said. 

Instead, life led me through cities, snow, and swamp—New York, Helsinki, New Orleans—and it took my parents and delivered terrible scenes. A pandemic. Berserkers in the Capitol. Mass shootings like the weather report. Screens that scrambled my sense of space, time, and self. And all the while, I fantasized about the desert as a refuge where I might heal my battered brain and really get to work. 

I’m finally here, perched on the southwest edge of Vegas. But I’m older now and fighting to resist the exhaustion of the twenty-first century, or worse yet, resignation. My view of the desert has changed too. The future is still here, but I also see the past. I think about all those ancient ascetics who wandered across the sand in search of the sacred, and I wonder if I can do the same.

The Date Palms – Honey Devash

Honey Devash | Mexican Sumer, 2011 | More

A sun-soaked desert hymn that veers into the otherworldly at the six-minute mark.