A body in motion wants to stay in motion, and a body at rest wants to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.
I got the title for this blog from Namibia, where lies the oldest desert and the tallest dunes in the world, and where I commenced a quarter-life crisis. Where fairy circles puzzled scientists for ages and the barren oasis lures Hollywood filmmakers. Also where I met good-looking dudes.
Daniel, a desert guide and my hot African date from the night before, sped past the pokey tourists and over the road of divots and rock and loose sand, through the park gate and into the vastness or red dunes and indigo sky. I sat in the passenger seat of the jeep. A Dutch couple jostled from side to side in back. The sun was rising behind us, and I was too warm with my sweatshirt, but too cold without it.
Sossusvlei hadn't had rain in six years, and the river and watering hole were dried up. But life has a way of adapting; oryx can go a year without drinking water, camelthorn tree roots grow three hundred feet below, and the catfish are still alive underground, hibernating in the mud. They are fixed in the earth, slowly sinking further to the core, following the moisture down to hell. And if the rain returns, they'll spring back to life and vitality as if the drought had never sat in protest on the country.
I pictured the fish underneath us, preserved in mid-swim with open mouths and open eyes. Later I imagined myself as one of those catfish stuck in the mud, asleep and unaware, unable to move and awaiting the rain to restore me.
I draw the comparison because I'm in my own drought and stuck in my own mud. It's easiest to waste life away with TV and junk food and a mental loopty-loop of self-doubt. It's easy to waste time on phones and computers, never having seen the physical dimension cycle through the seasons. Sometimes I lay on my couch and stare at the ceiling with no rational thoughts in my head to keep me grounded in reality. When my friends gave me the password to their Netflix account, I didn't get out of my sweatpants for three weeks.
I wish it wasn't so easy to set the default to idle. I scroll through the internet as if I'm looking for something, and maybe I began by looking for something, but I forgot what it was and still search mindlessly. I repeat the same few actions every day without change, without learning, without action, and it's like being stuck in mud. Ostensibly mobile, but not alive. Frozen in motion while time hurdles forward. So deeply asleep it's like hibernation.
And I am always trying to wake up.
Catfish in the Mud
I went to Namibia and took a tour of Sossusvlei, where it hasn't rained in 6 years. The river is completely dried up. My guide told me that even in the six-year drought, catfish are hibernating deep down in the mud and will surface again when the rains come back and restore life to the desert. I didn't believe him at first, like I didn't believe in the mysterious fairy circles on the dunes. But now the idea of catfish in the mud has become a metaphor for the things trapped on the inside and down below that wait for the rains to give them some vigor and life. Catfish in the Mud is a pretty standard millennial blog in which I say mostly nothing in about 300 words.