A Postcard from the Taklamakan (2)


Desert travel blurs all time sense. I don’t know if it’s the hypnotic motion of the camel or the endless monotony of the scenery. The mind works on two levels simultaneously. The automatic level is watching the route, choosing a path, adjusting for balance. The other level is flowing along rivers of memory, through labyrinths of thought, reliving past events and acting out future possibilities.

Day after endless desert day I plodded through the burning, shifting sands. I watched as the course of my life played itself out in the theatre of my mind. My past unrolled like a film: all the twisting convolutions of happenstance, all the chance meetings and unforeseen events that led me there to desert sands half a world away. I reeled into the future and played out possibilities, stopping to reel back and play out new paths.

Abdul Rahim called a halt. A two-hour ride lasted six by the clock. The desert sun melts time as easily as it does plastic.

About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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