Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Right now, my stepfather is on his way to Egypt.

He took me to the car repair shop this morning, then to the coffee shop where I bought him a coffee, and then to work. I got up earlier than I usually do and made it okay to work. It was incredibly nice of him to do this, especially with such a long trip ahead the same day.

He told me a bit about his trip, which includes camping a couple of nights in the middle of the desert with a group that's done this before. It's a "pilgrimage" trip, not a vacation type trip. He's going with sixteen other people. I can only imagine what the sky will look like in the desert, and the countless numbers of stars. It will be a completely different culture and way of life, where he is literally at the mercy of the trips organizers and the locals who are guides. It sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, which will not be wasted on Jack. Not many people can say they slept under the stars in the Sinai desert.

A couple weeks after grandmother died, Jack went on a trip to New Mexico. He drove through places I'd never heard of and made the entire trip to and from Baltimore in his car. The first call of the desert, I guess. He met people who still invited strangers in their houses by dropping a name they knew in common. He just recently retired and is on a soul searching mission, one that it doesn't seem that he is forcing, but one that is gently leading him by the hand. And he's going, wherever that hand is taking him. This month, it's to Egypt.

I completely know how he feels. It's a need to strip down and see who you really are. And to do that, sometimes your surroundings have to be unfamiliar. Sometimes, when surroundings are too known, things are easy to overlook. How many times have you turned to a companion in the car, or on a walk, and asked if something is new, only to have them turn to blandly tell you that it's been there for years. However, it's the first time you've noticed it.

I think self is like that sometimes. There are many parts of us that we haven't noticed, mainly because we haven't been tested in an environment where we've had to look for them. However, ask someone else, and like that sign, or tree, or building, they probably knew it was there all along. It's been a constant frustration of mine.

So Jack is going to Egypt on a quest for he not knows what. He just knows that he has to go. I'll be interested to hear what the desert whispered in his ear.

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