‘Heaven. Never offered. Always claimed.’
Oases. Havens on earth. They exist everywhere, in the fangs of the wilderness, in the whirlwind of civilization. They are the trees that shade the traveler on the long stretch of sand, the fresh water-well at the end of a long trek in the desert. The cafe where you sit down for a refreshment after a long day in the steaming concrete jungle. The end of a long drive through traffic.
Oases are the warm wind in the dark winter forest and the pillow on which you rest your head after three weeks of cramming for exams. They are your house in the morning in September when the kids have resumed school. The sound of their voice when they come home. The drive to school and back, and the vacations you take to recharge and reboot, and the sound of a loved one’s voice coming through the veils of sleep to awaken you.
They are the cave you stumble across on the windswept plains. They are the smell of freshly cut grass in the morning on your way to work. They are the small round table in the crowded commercial square where the sun shines through the tall buildings and gilds you for a few divine minutes, or the cozy restaurant in the side-street where you sit down and enjoy a steaming dish of food after a rain-sodden shift at the construction site.
In the temperate and tropical climates they’re the secret coves on the bay, private and serene and rare. Or the cool beach bars with the ice cold drinks, or the rave parties by the seaside where the punters are going bonkers and the word ‘party’ takes on its celebratory meaning.
In the slums and shantytowns it’s the kindness a poor person displays when sharing with a friend or stranger whatever little food he’s got. In the sleepless nights it’s a favourite book, or a phone call to a loved one. In the dawn of youth it’s a word of praise from a parent, and in the twilight of old age it’s a visit from a child.
In the hospital it’s the sight of a caring doctor, or a piece of good news, a brief respite from pain, a few hours of uninterrupted sleep with good dreams. During a sports game it’s a moment in the zone, however brief, or the electric cheer of the crowd; a moment in the limelight; a nod from people you don’t know, or know all too well, in all kinds of games and competitions, or at work. It’s the way people treat you, the recognition by those around you, or a comforting childhood memory that gets you through the day whatever you may be doing, or even the well-placed compliment or comment when the whole world seems to be conspiring against you.
And in the midst of chaos it’s a moment of silence, an opportunity when your mind is allowed to unwind for a moment, relax, breathe in, breathe out, idle down and come to. The empty stretch of road during a midnight drive in the city. The bonfire at night by the lake in the company of friends, old or new. The songs we sing to each other and the love we make to one another. Idle the motor down to cool off, or rev it up to ignite the engine and get ready for what’s to come, the result is the same. Refreshment. Moments that arrest the onslaught of routine, offering respite and change, rejuvenation, a shift in perspective, a new beginning. A chance to recharge and replenish.
Oasis. Oases. Nestled in time, they’re waiting to be stumbled upon, uncovered, seized upon and made use of by those eager enough to make the best of them. Those eager enough to locate them, or craft them out of thin air. All over the world, in the most unlikely of places, oases cater to people of all ages at the oddest of locations on the strangest occasions, powering the world’s cells. Fleeting, apparitional, rare and precious, havens on earth, they’re the stuff people get up for every day, the reason they put one foot in front of the other, one thought in front of the other to venture forth, carry on, endure the long and treacherous trek Into The Wild. Food of the gods. Power, sanctuary, they are the refuge one needs when the day is over, or when strength evaporates. The pitstops that prolong the journey. The rest stations on a road that never ends.
The road that never ends. If it did, the world would cease to exist. But the road never ends, it stretches as far as time itself, marking the route of life, and as long as there is agency in flesh, blood and mind, people will carve it without pause. Some will go far, others will falter early on. Journeys will vary in length and scope, and the end will come, and come, and come again and again, and will keep coming without reprieve — it always does — accompanied by fresh beginnings, fresh days, or new, eager agents, relay runners charged with beating a path to tomorrow’s door. The journey, the odyssey of animate, intelligent life is hard, grueling and extremely punishing, extreme even, but it is made worthwhile by the magic with which one sprinkles the trail, the wonders that power it and the havens one finds along the way.
It is made worthwhile by the heaven one cares to ascend daily, at every step of the way.
From the bays of Pearl Coast,
Fish a ton of oysters, swim a thousand leagues,
Surface, breathe, dive.