There is nothing crueler, to the person lost in the desert, than the hope offered and destroyed by the mirage.
Out of all the metaphors I’ve come up with through the past year, and through all the poetry and writings, nothing I’ve said has come close to matching the accuracy of the mirage in the desert. Past the land of kings and into the valley of the shadow of death, I chased after that mirage, only to have it disintegrate just as I reached out. Over impossible dunes, through violent sandstorms, and over the cracked earth baking beneath the glare of a vicious, unforgiving sun, I chased the mirage.
I can’t blame the mirage for my presence in the desert–obviously. Only by being in the desert first could I have been tempted by the illusion; the mirage was a direct result of my desperate oddysey through the barren desolation. I could never have seen the mirage if I wasn’t already delirious from dehydration, starvation, and exhaustion. Weariness took its toll, the result of a lifetime of wandering in vain, searching in futility for a sign that I was not in the desert alone but in a wondrous oasis where only kindred spirits could enter.
I cannot fault the mirage that I mistook it for flesh and bone. The mirage was merely there; it was I who believed in its authenticity. Whether the mirage appealed to me and tempted me is nothing to do with the mirage, and everything to do with me–though it was created by dancing waves of heat in the distance and existed beyond my fevered imaginings, it was my mind that saw a destination, an end to the hopeless wandering.
As I reached out my hand, parched and darkened by exposure to the desert sun, the air before me shimmered, and the illusion evaporated. There I stood, atop that golden dune, alone. And yet I was sure–had I not, for just a brief moment, as I reached out felt tangible flesh and bone? Even as the mirage faded into dusty air and slip through my fingers, was there not substance there–something real that I, just for a moment, laid my hands upon?
Or was even that just another construct of the imagination of a mind cracked like the earth beneath the horrid sun?