A year ago, at the isolated height of the COVD pandemic, my friend Robert Silk invited me to spend the weekend in the desert with him.
I had not considered myself a desert person, but the weekend journey a year ago has turned into a year-long journey that has changed my mind.
I ended up shooting what has become a slightly less-than-an-hour long documentary (on my phone), about a full day in nature. Silk engaged in what he calls the 'endurance sport' of desert sitting. Yes, he laughs a little when he talks about the day when a committee of people will lay down the rules to the sport, establish the metric that decides the difficulty of a given 'sit,' and records the sport's record-holders. He laughs a little, and I laugh with him, but I am beginning to think he is on to something.
What I really discovered, though, was the meditative quality of a full day in nature, beginning before sunrise. His preparation and planning were meticulous (partly due to a previous failed all-day attempt). His plan was to watch the arc of the sun from sunrise to sunset. His motive was to slow down, to get away from the 'world of too much rushing." He succeeded, and in the process I just might have gained a new respect for the concept.
The documentary will arrive on both Youtube and IMDb soon (before the current month of June ends). It is at times humorous, meditative, beautiful - yes, I admit I was caught up in the beauty of the moment when those first rays of sunlight barely stretched their way up over the horizon around 5:30 am.
I cheated, though. I made my way back to a motel room to sleep a couple extra hours, while Silk sat for the duration. My return at noon was the cheap way out. I stayed out there for the rest of the day, but I didn't reach the same renewed state that he did. I felt some of it by association, though, and I liked the feeling.
Whether you are someone who might just take to a new 'endurance sport,' or just someone who craves a day of quiet in today's world, I would take a look at Silk's day in the desert. In some respect maybe Robert Silk is a pioneer.
Maybe my favorite aspect of desert sitting, given my own personality, is the freedom to laugh a little in the process. Yes, it is okay to be taken by the beauty of nature, and then to joke around a little.
As I said up front, I did not consider myself a desert person. I think I'm all-in on this now, though. there is a world of beauty around us that we usually move through too quickly. It is worthwhile to slow down and sit in it for a day.
And maybe, just maybe, some day someone will keep a record of the world's most challenging 'Sit.'
June 14, 2021