Into the Desert Wilds

What should keep us from living a beautiful, purposeful life?

IMG_8892We piled the car full of gear and drove out of the city; savoring the thinning traffic and blasting punk rock mix tapes. The wind whipped our hair and the sun singed our knees.
We talked about things that mattered. I love that. I need the company of people who won’t hesitate to tell you about their disappointments or the stories that make them feel human. Malado (my cousin) is as adept at conversing beautifully as she is at drawing. Our minds went all kinds of places together.

IMG_8813 See more of Malado Baldwin’s beautiful work here.


The Mojave is a mars-scape. Somehow the hours I’d spent poring over pictures online hadn’t given me the faintest clue as to what it was actually like, and I was in constant amazement. As we drove into the park I laughed, gasped, and prickled with goose bumps.
Joshua Tree is a playground of the gods, with endless acres of cacti and prickly trees, and massive rocks piled every which way.
Every inch of it begs to be explored.


In that moment of seeing something new, we are aware that the world is vast and strange, and we are small.
There is a pure exhilaration and bliss in discovery.


The rocks are piled in wonderfully intricate heaps. They are easy to climb and when you climb them your body becomes graceful. We set to explore them and found quiet places perched on top.


I am acutely aware of how painfully human I am in wild places. There is an endless expanse all around me and my brain can’t get quiet. I find myself unable to stop thinking about things I don’t care about.

Malado led us in meditation on the top of some rocks overlooking the Barker Dam. There were a few moments where I was able to really focus on my breath and the light across my eyelids. It was bliss. And then suddenly my human brain would begin to chatter again—“I wonder what cacti evolved from?”—and I was back down to earth.



I discovered an idea there, which is that I don’t think happiness can be achieved passively. Life is a challenging venture and each day poses new obstacles. I don’t think choosing the path of least resistance will ever be very gratifying.

Even if that means sticking around and putting up with shit you hate. In order to get where you have to go.

I have to decide to go meet the universe. This is so simple in theory.


“Remember that if you don’t meet the universe, the universe isn’t going to meet you. So go meet someone new today!”

I am inspired. Every day, I will {try try try to} renew my intent to pursue truth and joy and honesty and grace, actively and earnestly. I think I needed to go look at some rocks to understand this.








8 Comments Add yours

  1. SC says:

    Looking forward to reading more your blog… Only just getting started with this post.

    Psychtraveller 🙂

  2. Thanks so much! Lots more to come. : – )

  3. Ah, Joshua Tree. I’ve never been. I have to go to LA at the end of April/1st of March and hope to free up some time then to visit. If not then, then in June I’ll be back. I can’t wait to see it.

    1. It’s absolutely stunning, make plenty of time to boulder. I look forward to reading about your experience there!

  4. restlessjo says:

    Love the silhouette of the two of you on the rocks- like intrepid explorers of old 🙂 And that reflective shot that comes next! So gorgeous.

    1. Thanks! It’s such a photogenic place, I had a lot of fun taking pictures.

  5. dadirri7 says:

    a beautiful post, great photos and I love your ideas Claire, peaks, reflections and prickles, that is life!

  6. bluebrightly says:

    I’m with dadirri! 🙂

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