Deserts are not empty

A man said to the Universe:
’Sir, I exist!’
’However,’ replied the Universe,
’The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.’
— Stephen Crane
Owens Valley, through the Sierra on the way down to Death Valley

Owens Valley, through the Sierra on the way down to Death Valley

Dear Indifferent Universe,

You know that I am intrigued by coincidences, and also that I am a problem solver. You've probably noticed the satisfaction I feel in that bright moment when connections happen, when things make sense. The connecting of dots stirs within me an almost primordial sense of joy. That is to say: it runs very deep. Through the life of a problem, question, or exploration, my mind holds a timeline from the beginning and it adds thumbtacks to hold clues when they emerge along the way. An elephant never forgets.

In this journey of creating jewelry (because it is something more than putting beads on a string, but that's another chapter in this story), a timeline has formed. The beginning swirls around those moments as a very small child when I would go and dig for shiny rocks in the dirt around my home. My parents, sister, and I spent many summer days looking for fossilized shark teeth and whale bone in the cliffs of the nearby riverbank. I remember the elation over a pile of gravel that was to be used for fancying up our driveway, but only so I could dig amongst all the gray stones for the few pieces of quartz that lie hidden inside.

My father and I on the Irish Sea, hounding the beach in Bray, 2014

My father and I on the Irish Sea, hounding the beach in Bray, 2014

I have always been intrigued by stones and crystals. I may have looked normal going about my childhood, but I frequently wondered about things that, had I voiced them, were probably quite odd. I would wonder as I sat on a playground: What sort of shiny rocks are in the earth, under my feet, at this very moment? I would imagine them in their foreign textures and colors. I dreamed of being an archaeologist. Now that I spend time with stones unearthed by someone else, I suppose that is the next best thing.

Later on the timeline is a moment when I first traveled through the Mojave desert. A quick survey of the landscape painted a story of desolation. I saw myriad hues of brown with endless bare mountains and immense, empty, valleys. I wanted to get out of the car and feel the sun on my skin so I parked it next to a dune covered in rocks and cactus. As I sat in the dusty earth, I took note of the things lying around me. I became mesmerized by all of the colors within the rocks—they were purple, blue like the sky and turquoise as the sea, brown was flecked with gold and fiery orange. These colors were all muted, the rocks sitting in the sun and taking many windy sand scrubs over time—but they were all there. My lifelong mantra arose in my mind: What else lies inside the earth? I made a huge heart out of rocks on the side of the road for passersby and continued on my way.

The descent into the valley; cacti in Palm Springs

The descent into the valley; cacti in Palm Springs

A new moment on the timeline has emerged. I've learned of other people who enjoy digging for rocks, and in the Mojave no less. I am not a geologist and I do not pretend to know each location around the world where various rocks are found. To learn that some of my favorites are under all of that sand, here in California—a land I hold so dear—leads me to see dots being connected. Joy.

The Mojave palette of colors

The Mojave palette of colors

Universe, I would like the opportunity to explore that land with a fellow rockhound or two. I need a guide as I have no idea where to begin, and cacti are not always the best conversationalists (though they do have their moments). I want to go treasure hunting in the most primitive sense!

Yours truly,
Christi