Have you ever thought about the difference between desert and dessert—just one small “s” but oh such different images come to mind. Lemon pie, chocolate chip cookies, German chocolate cake—gooey, rich, yummy, comforting food vs a dry, hot, thirsty, empty ,lonely, barren landscape.
Our day to day habits are often like dessert-comforting and gooey, hard on the arteries but so difficult to change until change is thrust upon you. Then comes a layoff, a medical diagnosis, a breakup of a relationship, a death of someone close to you, or a “crisis of meaning” in your life. Suddenly you are dropped in the Desert. You despair.
- You don’t know yourself. You feel lost, abandoned, and confused.
- Your sense of time changes
- Food loses its appeal
- You can’t sleep
- You can’t focus. You wander aimlessly. What the bleep has happened to your life?
These in-between times -the space after one trapeze and before catching the next- seem like forever and torturous. And the world is impatient for you to get on with your life. Get back on track! It is frightening to those around you to see you lost because they depend on you.
So what is happening in this Desert? It seems like nothing is happening, yet there is more than meets the eye. I lived for 2 years on the Mojave Desert and discovered an amazing amount of plant and animal life in this ecosystem. I was shocked to see the Desert come alive one Spring—with endless rolling hills of beautiful wild flowers. It was gorgeous— I had no idea!
When you find yourself in your desert there is a lot going on beneath the surface. Old ways of thinking, believing, and behaving are getting de-constructed—making space for the new. Just like a house remodel—you have to tear down before you can rebuild. You are letting go of old ways of being -that don’t have the same meaning anymore. This takes time, it takes quiet, it takes wandering, it takes “feeling the emptiness” that carves out space for something new to come.
Don’t rush it or let yourself be rushed:
- Treat yourself lovingly during this passageway between your past and your future.
- Rest when you need to rest, sleep when you are tired
- Eat when hungry
- Listen to music, take walks, write when words come
- Know there won’t be much structure in your life for a while.
These times “off the treadmill” in my life seem to trigger old songs from my past and old memories of what I enjoyed as a child. I find my heart opening and I discover parts of myself that I had long forgotten.
The desert times are hidden “dessert”. They will help you bring the true richness and meaning you need in your life-that often gets lost in the day to day rush. Trust that these times are necessary and critical to assist you in truly understanding who you are and where you want to go next. And the bonus is: this dessert won’t go to your waistline!