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No Better Place to Meet Yourself

--by Moussa Ag Assarid (Dec 21, 2015)


Moussa Ag Assarid (MAA): I don’t know my age. I was born in the Sahara desert, with no papers. I was born in a nomadic camp of Touaregs, between Timbuktu and Gao, in the north of Mali. [...]

J: What do they do for a living?
MAA: We shepherd camels, goats, sheep, cows and donkeys in a kingdom of infinite and of silence…

J: Is the desert really so silent?
(MAA): If you are on your own in that silence you hear your heart beat. There is no better place to meet yourself.

J: What memories do you have of your childhood in the desert?
MAA: I wake up with the Sun. The goats of my father are there. They give us milk and meat, and we take them were there is water and grass. My great-grandfather did it, and my grandfather, and my father, and me. There was nothing else in the world than that, and I was very happy!

J: Really? It doesn’t sound very exciting.
MAA: It is. At the age of seven you can go alone away from the camp, and for this you are taught the important things—to smell the air, to listen, to see carefully, to orient with the Sun and the stars…and to be guided by the camel if you get lost. He will take you where there is water.

J: To know that is valuable, no doubt.
MAA: Everything is simple and profound there. There are very few things, and each one has enormous value.

J: So that world and this one are very different.
MAA: There, every little thing gives happiness. Every touch is valuable. We feel great joy just by touching each other, being together. There, nobody dreams of becoming, because everybody already is.

J: What shocked you most on your first trip to Europe?
MAA: I saw people running in the airport. In the desert you only run if a sandstorm is approaching! It scared me, of course.

J: They were going after their baggage, ha ha.
MAA: Yes, that was it. [...]

J: What do you dislike the most here?
MAA: Many people here have everything, and it is still not enough for them. They complain. In [the modern world] many people complain all the time! They chain themselves to a bank; many people are anxious to have things, to have possessions. People are in a rush. In the desert there are no traffic jams, and do you know why? Because there nobody is interested in getting ahead of other people!

J: Tell me about a moment of deep happiness for you in the desert.
MAA: It happens every day, two hours before sunset. The heat decreases, there is still no cold air, and men and animals slowly return to the camp, and their profiles are painted against a sky that is pink, blue, red, yellow, green.

J: That sounds fascinating.
MAA: It’s a magical moment… We all get into the tents and we boil tea. Sitting in silence we listen to the sound of the boiling water… We all are immersed in calmness: with the heartbeats tuned to the rhythm of the boiling water, potta potta potta…

J: How peaceful.
MAA: Yes…here you have watches; there, we have time.

Moussa Ag Assarid is the oldest of thirteen children in a nomadic Touareg family. Born in northern Mali in 1975, he moved to France in 1999 to study Management at the University of Montpellier. The above is excerpted from an interview with Víctor Amela.

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20 Previous Reflections:

 
On Apr 7, 2017 Pranita wrote:

 This is the best thing I've read today. :)



On Jul 24, 2016 Krishna Shethji wrote:

 Wonderful read for sure ! I agree that best way to meet yourself is to be in nature without any other rush in mind. My all nature camp trips from my school helps me in overcoming my weaknesses which I have within me like swimming, height phobia, etc. I can spend time with myself introspecting things which I do in life and give a re-think on it. 

Thanks for sharing this story :)



On Jul 24, 2016 Subhalaxmi wrote:

 Amazing read! The closing line is most poignant. Not only do we have watches, we have brands of watches...but we don't have time, for family, or for ourselves. 
Thanks for making me re-think about what is more valuable in life.



On Feb 3, 2016 Ramesh Narayan wrote:

 Yes, I strive to enter that space where I can meet myself. In fact, in this modern technologically advanced world, I don't know who am I, where am I going and what I want. I am known to the world by my name, my position and what I possess in material terms. 



On Dec 28, 2015 jenny wrote:

 As dawn is breaking, sitting with my head resting against the flank of my cow, as I draw the generous flow of sweetly scented milk from her udder. She turns her head and breaths warm sweet breath in my face as her tongue rasps across my cheek. She loves me.             f s



On Dec 25, 2015 Tricia wrote:

 I have traveled in the Sahara, camping for 3 wks at a time, with a Toureg crew & guide. All that he says is true, and as simple and as pure as his description. Absolute silence, and at night a wealth of stars. Clear dry air and no light pollution makes the vastness of the night sky overwhelming. That is part of their environment also. 



On Dec 24, 2015 paras wrote:

 funny, everytime i'm at a difficult stage in life i get a reflection that speaks to it. this one was perfectly written. simplicity of life explained is a simple but clear way. the courage to follow the path while the crowd is pulling you in another direction. 



On Dec 23, 2015 arsha gosine wrote:

 I had a conversation with a friend in India and I immediately googled the website. Awakin Circles immediately resonated with me and I as read the passage above it made me think further on how we are our worst enemies...... never taking time to nourish our own souls and look within. Yes we have all the conveniences like washing machines vacum cleaners etc to make life easier but we still run around, we still waste our time on frivolous things, frivolous actions. I thank you today for reminding me of  the space within and the silence I can experience.



On Dec 23, 2015 Narendra Goidani wrote:

Reading this has changed my life! I am 47. Had wanted to work till 52 and then devote myself to 'listening to silence'. I just gifted myself two more years of silence.
Thanks a ton. Hugs!!!



On Dec 22, 2015 Rosie Bachand wrote:

 what a blessing to have time and the quiet and peace for our spirit it brings with it.



On Dec 22, 2015 Mish wrote:

 The deep peace of beautiful simplicity....smiling, breathing, going slowly.



On Dec 22, 2015 Annette wrote:

 I live and work in a big city and I deal with the public doing retail which can be so stressful at times especially during the holidaze.  That and the fact that my sister recently passed away.  I allow myself to grieve and when I can, during breaks at work, I'll sit outside with my face towards the sun (which we have during winter) and just absorb the warmth of it for a while.  A sense of peace, calm, and comfort engulfs me as it feels so healing.  I try to hang on to that feeling as long as I can as it helps me during the stressful times.  Nature is so much bigger than our own problems so for me, to indulge in it's myriad ways of beauty whether it's the sun or rain or birds flying in waves of grace and beauty..........or even observing the wild cats who own the neighborhood as they go through the dynamics of their hierarchies.....it's all grist for the mill in my being grateful for life. 



1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply
On Dec 22, 2015 Smita wrote:

 Every time I read this, a sense of calmness quietens the noise within .... 



On Dec 21, 2015 Sunil,Bangalore wrote:

Desert ,close to nature is sublime.Connected to the life force without hindrance. But life is holistic with many other aspects also.And  these are all interconnected to be complete.Let us not isolate to be incomplete but take a 360 degree facts based life view to be immersed in ourselves.Cheers



On Dec 21, 2015 Miki wrote:

 As beautiful as MAA's description is, and as much as I am troubled by the very things about Western Civilization and modernity that he describes, I cannot sidestep two challenging aspects of this.

One is that he actually made the choice to leave the desert and move to France. Without any transparency about what led to that choice, I am challenged to understand it and it leaves a veil of discomfort for me.

The other is that while I don't anything specific about the culture he comes from, many cultures of the desert are very brutal towards women. I cannot gloss over that in reading his description. 

I do, personally, love the desert and have a deep personal understanding about the silence and the amazing sky and the sense of such profound and nourishing starkness.

Both are true. It's complex for me.



1 reply: Tricia | Post Your Reply
On Dec 20, 2015 david doane wrote:

I felt some jealousy of Moussa Ag Assarid regarding the simple, basic, pristine experience of which he speaks.  I've had some brief moments of happiness in the midst of nature.  For example, time I've been in a heavy snow fall when there is no traffic, only the sounds of nature, no one around, and I felt enveloped in snow falling, wind blowing, and cold air.  I felt alone with nature, close with nature, part of nature, and I felt happiness and some awe in the midst of nature.  Such moments are deepening and special.  Meditation, early in the morning before the sun comes up and before traffic and other human noises of the day begin, is a time that supports my being immersed in calmness and facilitates and supports my entering a space in which I meet my individuality as simultaneously part of universality.  Such meditation moments are also deepening and special.  I'm remembering Paschal's saying that "all men's miseries derive from not being able to si  See full.

I felt some jealousy of Moussa Ag Assarid regarding the simple, basic, pristine experience of which he speaks.  I've had some brief moments of happiness in the midst of nature.  For example, time I've been in a heavy snow fall when there is no traffic, only the sounds of nature, no one around, and I felt enveloped in snow falling, wind blowing, and cold air.  I felt alone with nature, close with nature, part of nature, and I felt happiness and some awe in the midst of nature.  Such moments are deepening and special.  Meditation, early in the morning before the sun comes up and before traffic and other human noises of the day begin, is a time that supports my being immersed in calmness and facilitates and supports my entering a space in which I meet my individuality as simultaneously part of universality.  Such meditation moments are also deepening and special.  I'm remembering Paschal's saying that "all men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."  I think being in the midst of nature is even better. 

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On Dec 19, 2015 Smita wrote:

This simple story says so much. What MAA describes here is what I call feeling human -- that sweet spot when the mind slows down and there's no rush at all. With all the stimuli we're surrounded by so much of the time, It can be challenging at times to feel human. It's nice to take a break from the stimuli when possible, and when not possible, find ways to feel human in the midst of it.