Susannah Taylor: What my desert trek taught me
Susannah in Jordan’s wadi rum desert. below
Amid the frenzy of 2021 my highlight was a charity trek across the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan last month. We were guided by a Bedouin tribe, and meeting these nomadic people was like a breath of fresh air in my jam-packed life. One man made a big impression on me. Wise and spiritual, Harb Zaweideh (below right), 54, grew up in the desert in a cave. He travelled to school by camel and found his way home in the sand dunes by looking up at the stars. Despite having few possessions, he is more at peace with himself than anyone I’ve ever met. I spent hours by the campfire talking to this fascinating gentleman and would like to share his teachings. While sleeping under the stars isn’t a reality for many of us in 2022, we could all benefit from the Bedouin school of life. My new year’s resolution? Be more Harb.
Susannah’s Bedouin guide Harb
CONNECT – WITH YOURSELF
Looking at Harb’s peacefulness made me think about the importance of simplifying our lives. One night, I asked him where he slept. He pointed to a mat and said, ‘I have my tea, the fire and the stars. What more do I need?’ He told me that living in the desert distances him and his people from confrontation, comparison and envy. ‘My brain is pure. You, on the other hand, live “rat-racing”. For some this can lead to a spiritual void. It’s so important not to be immersed in the material world but to connect with yourself.’
DITCH THE TECH
One of the best parts of our week was the lack of wifi; I was out of contact with home for six days. I have written previously about how the light from our phones disturbs our sleep but that week in the desert I slept over nine hours a night ‒ despite being in a sleeping bag with rocks poking in my back. While Harb and his peers now have mobiles, it’s his belief that technology will be the ruin of us: ‘Why do I need all those words in my brain? I want it to be empty for good things.’
TUNE INTO NATURE
Harb spoke about how vital the natural world is for our wellbeing and about how the majestic beauty of the desert makes him feel whole. ‘We come from nature, we need to be connected to nature. When I am in the desert and under the stars, I know nothing is human-made.’
EAT LESS – AND BETTER
Harb told me that the Bedouins rarely get ill and it was unheard of for someone in their village to die early, with an average lifespan of 85. A healthy diet is a big factor. ‘We eat only our type of food,’ he said, which consists of roasted meats, hummus, tabbouleh, grilled vegetables, pitta bread and yogurt dishes. ‘Too much manmade food is bad for your health. We don’t eat too much either.’ And as nomadic people, he explained, they are always walking and climbing.
DON’T FORGET, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
Finally, Harb spoke about contentment. ‘It’s dangerous to search for happiness in material goods,’ he told me. ‘Thinking we need more money, a better job. Be honest and love yourself. I focus on the good and positive things in life. I skip everything negative and convince myself that life is beautiful. Don’t follow happiness, let it come to you.’
Susannah’s trek was organised through tribaltracks.co.uk
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