In The Martian, Matt Damon is stuck on Mars farming potatoes. I seriously envied him.
You may recognize the landscape of this movie from Lawrence of Arabia – or from other movies about Mars, as well as another movie by Ridley Scott, Prometheus.
And if you’ve been there, you know that reddish rock cannot be any place other than Wadi Rum, in Jordan.
Seeing it on a big screen made me feel lonely and happy all at once. Homesick for a place that is not my home.
I was there alone, during a six-month trip through Africa and the Middle East in 1996-97. Very few of my friends have been there; Wadi Rum is not a place that comes up in casual conversation. And if you have been there, it’s hard to talk about.
It is one of those places that shifts your perspective permanently. I get homesick for Wadi Rum when my soul is weary of the trivia of human life and wants to go home to that bigger place.
Vastness, whether it’s Wadi Rum, Alaska, or the Blue Ridge Mountains, or just an open sky full of stars, lets you remember how small you are.
They swaddle you like an infant, wrapping you in their endless arms.
All those things that eat at me, that I fret and worry about – they mean absolutely nothing. Geological time, etched in rock, reassures me that we’re standing still, in one eternal place.
Today’s penny is a 1997, for Wadi Rum.