The sun takes its time setting behind the mountains, taking the heat of the day with it. Just minutes ago, camp was set up. The donkeys drink from a watering hole. Finally, the nomads can pause and rest. They deserve it.

They are eager to take their shoes off, stretching their feet and wiggling their toes. The cool earth soothes the tired feet of these men. They gather, each sitting on his own towel. They have been waiting for this moment all day. While others prepare food at the campsite, they exchanges stories. Muhammad, everyones senior, stands before them, speaking.

Tonight, he reminisces to his youth, sharing a story. The younger men, listen intently. The older men, having heard the story, absorb the scenery.

"Today reminds me of a day in my childhood, when I was on a journey like this with my father. The sunset was beautiful, as it is tonight, but that day was not as relaxed as today. In the midday heat, as we trekked through the desert, the sun was baking our bodies. The donkeys were stubborn and quickly growing weak. We should have listened to the earth, and sought shelter for the day, but that is not what we did. Pushing on, the heat grew worse, and the winds picked up. A sandstorm was brewing."

All the young men are staring at Muhammad, forgetting to blink.

"We were caught in the middle of the storm, and helpless to escape it. We could not see where we were going. My instant reaction was to cover my face from the sand. The men were frantically searching for cover, eventually finding a lone tree. Digging into the barren earth, they created enough room to protect the group. The storm seemed to rage on for hours, but in reality, it was minutes. Afterwards, we gathered ourselves, only to realize that we had lost our donkeys. A search found the donkeys, but unfortunately, it was too late. They did not survive the storm. Each able bodied man grabbed supplies, and we had to complete that days journey carrying everything. Now I tell you this story for two reason, and I suggest you learn from our misfortune. Listen to the earth, my brothers. She will tell you all that you need to know during your journey. The earth is a mystery, but she leaves you hints. Find them, and read these hints. Lastly, recognize that you may only bring what is essential to your life, and nothing more. We seldom realize the excess that we bring, until we must carry our possessions ourselves."

by...andrew koltsoon


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