Seashells in the Desert

Sahara Desert

Sometimes life, or maybe fate, throws poetry right at our feet. Nowadays it seems that most of us simply walk over it, not even looking down. That is a big mistake. Life is too short to ignore those cosmic bits of verse that are thrown into your lap. It is a lot like walking on a beach and ignoring all the seashells around you. Why ignore advice that desperately wants to be heard? Seashells are nature’s way of bringing poetry into your life. All you have to do is take note and do your best to listen. That is what Wendy E. Simmons of Huff Post Travel did when she was in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Chad. In her words, “I was there on holiday, taking an 18-day road trip that spanned nearly 4,000 kilometers (which, I was told, constituted roughly 30% of the country).”

So, Simmons was immersed in the wildness of the desert, a place most of us would dare not travel, let alone take a holiday or vacation, especially when you’re in a place called the Mourdi Depression. Simmons was looking for birds, partridges in particular, which seem to be a rare sight in the middle of the desert. She saw this as a miracle of some kind, seeing these little partridges flying around the desert on Christmas Day. Such a sight is one that poets immortalize in verse. Simmons understood the beauty of the situation, writing, “The chances had to be exactly…that was the only time that will ever happen in the history of the world.”

That alone would make this trip worthwhile, but it seemed that fate had other surreal miracles in store for Simmons, lending credence to the idea that the desert is a very special place. Other than witnessing festive yuletide birds in the scorching heat, another sight that might take your breath away is seeing signs of the ocean in the desert and that is exactly what happened. Simmons stumbled across seashells in the dry, desert sand. Seashells! The clairvoyant kings and queens of the ocean living large in the Sahara…the image alone is something a surrealist poet would conjure up. Simmons writes, “We scooped up a few of the shells and ran back to the jeep. And now those shells are here in my apartment, in a glass bowl next to the computer where I write. Though I must look at them a hundred times a day, the seashells of the Sahara remind me every time what an extraordinary place the world is.”

Seeing the seashells was an epiphany for Simmons, almost forcing her to come face-to-face with proof that the most famous desert of them all was covered by water, that Earth’s deserts were once oceans and maybe vice versa. This is extraordinary to think about, but even more so, is a reminder that massive change is very real, that if you feel like the desert on the inside know that that feeling is not permanent, but rather temporary, that one day there will be an ocean flowing inside of you – and that is a very beautiful, therapeutic thing, inspiration that you can be a better you – and seashells just might be that force of change.