After seven months of constant protests, electricity cuts, water and fuel shortage, price increases, regular political discussions, and constant worry, we decided to take a beak and sought refuge in the western Egyptian oasis of Siwa. An oasis with numerous springs in the midst of a sea of sand. It’s simply a piece of heaven.
The first time I visited Siwa was in May of 2009 and I was in awe at its beauty. This month, I returned to the desert and I was struck again by the silent beauty of the sea of sand. I was also struck by the freedom I felt there.
For months, we have been struggling for freedom from oppression and dictatorship in Yemen. To be free is a human need, but are we all completely free?
Sitting on the soft sand without my “essential” items such as my phone, internet, music or black eyeliner, I realize that we are all enslaved to some thing. Whether it’s the news, or to what people and society may think of us, or to fashion or or or…the list can be very long. Maybe as human beings, we tend to accumulate things because we are in search of filling that void inside us.
At the desert, I felt liberated because I was able to enjoy my days without any material possessions, instead I was connecting with my inner self. In my daily busy life, there are many external voices always hovering around me, like an annoying bee. This makes it very difficult to hear anything else or to connect with what your body and soul really need. The silence of the desert allowed me to connect to my soul. Time stood still and my mind and body took a moment to relax.
The desert not only taught me freedom but also appreciation of natural beauty. We spend so much time in front of “screens” whether it’s TV, computer or a phone. I think we have forgotten how to look beyond these screens. We need to separate from that once in a while, and re-learn to enjoy nature and what it has to offer.
Appreciation of natural beauty can also be extended to our own bodies. Behind a sand dune and away from the four other people with me, I took off my clothes to go to the bathroom. I felt nervous at first but I quickly realized that I was completely alone. That 10 seconds felt like an eternity. I looked up, right, left, but no one was there except for the stars looking down at me. At the point, I smiled at the freedom of being “naked”.
In the greatness of the sand dunes I also realize the insignificance of our own existence. The biggest event in my own history, the revolution, feels like a drop in the sea of sand. It’s just one event out of many in this world. With time, things will change. The sun will always rise, and there will always be another day.
During this visit, I recharged by battery using solar energy. Then I became undone, I restarted, and refreshed.