“Man is first animated by invisible solicitations”

UntitledThere, one perpetually bathes in the conditions for sheer boredom. And yet invisible divinities build up a net of directions, slopes and signs, a secret and living frame. No more uniformity. Everything takes up a definite position. Even one silence is unlike another silence.

There is a silence of peace, when the tribes are reconciled, when the evening once more brings its coolness, and it seems as if one had furled the sails and taken up moorings in a quiet harbor.

There is silence of the noon, when the sun suspends all thought and movement. There is a false silence when the north wind has dropped, and the appearance of insects, drawn away like pollen from their inner oasis, announces the eastern storm, carrier of sand. There is silence of intrigue, when one knows that a distant tribe is brooding. There is a silence of mystery, when the Arabs join up in their intricate cabals. There is a tense silence when the messenger is slow to return. A sharp silence when, at night, you hold your breath to listen. A melancholic silence when you remember those you love.

Everything is polarized. Each star shows a real direction. They are all Magi’s stars. They all serve their own God. This one marks a distant well, difficult to reach. And the distance to that well weighs like a rampart. That one denotes the direction of a dried-up well. And the star itself looks dry. And the space between the star and the dried well does not lessen. The other star is a sign-post to the unknown oasis which nomads have praised in songs, but which dissent forbids you. And the sand between you and the oasis is a lawn in a fairy tale. That other one shows the direction of a white city of the South, which seems as delicious as a fruit to munch. Another points to the sea. Lastly this desert is magnetized from afar by two unreal poles: a childhood home, remaining alive in the memory. A friend we know nothing about, except that he exists.

So you feel strained and enlivened by the field of forces which attract or repel you, entreat or resist you. There you are, well-founded, well-determined, well-established in the center of cardinal directions.

And as the desert offers no tangible riches, as there is nothing to see or hear in the desert, one is compelled to acknowledge, since the inner life, far from falling asleep, is fortified, that man is first animated by invisible solicitations. Man is ruled by Spirit. In the desert I am worth what my divinities are worth.

The Sahara may be more lively than a capital, and the most crowded city is deserted if the essential poles of life lose their magnetism.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on What the Sahara Desert Can Teach Us About the Meaning of Life – Brain Pickings