|Posted by tomlaporte on June 12, 2008 at 6:54 PM|
Marhaba! Salaam! Greetings in peace from Kemet! Egypt?s long and storied history has brought it many titles and monikers. One I feel certain has been used before is the land of irony. Egypt?s vast landscape houses deserts, fertile oases, barren wilderness, lush Nile River valleys, unimaginable wealth, absolute squalor, desolate lifelessness and untold natural beauty. It is seen by some as a crude and overpopulated third world country, while others view Egypt as the proud, uninterrupted seat of civilization. The list of titles continues for sure; however, I?ll stop here, for now.
Kemet, the name ancient Egyptians used for their marvelous country, means ?black land.? It refers to the fertile black soil provided by the Nile River. Upper and Lower Egypt make up two worlds bound by one lengthy history and the world?s longest river, and stand divided by hot arid badlands not fit for human or beast. Egypt?s deserts, the constant across time and place, conceal the timeless secrets of this magnificent country and her exploits.
Even to this very day Egypt and what lies beneath her vast lands and waters remain a riddle of sorts, only because we can?t always decipher tales of magic, intrigue and quest for the afterlife. All that made for more than enough to invite me back for a second visit to this great and mystical country. Along with my travel mates, we spent seven days walking, talking, reading, questioning, studying, hypothesizing, and taking pictures of people, places, animals and monuments. During our brief stay we stood in awe at Egypt?s natural splendor.
Like so many other pilgrims and tourists past and present, Egypt?s dual lands mysteriously worked magic on me. This isn?t one of those, ?I went to Egypt one person and came home someone new? tales. It?s not an, ?I left something in Egypt or I brought something back? story either. In fact, as I write I pray words will follow from my hand to the page and begin to describe the blessing Kemet bestowed on me during a week long visit to the mystical ?Black Land.?
Like a Holy Grail quest, I came to Egypt for something more than vacation and picture postcards. I endured the desert heat and food and water deprivation. I walked and traversed. I came away with something intangible, but notably I had changed. While touring I purchased a ring with hieroglyphs. Unbeknownst to me, the jeweler added two characters, the scarab beetle and ankh. Crudely they can be interpreted as renewed and everlasting, respectively.
Renewed and Everlasting can certainly be found in annals of titles prescribed to Egypt. That?s what I left Egypt aspiring to be, renewed and everlasting. I want to be a writer of material that educates, entertains and inspires. I want to be Kemet, and its scribes and artisans. I want to inscribe words making me and others renewed and everlasting. Even with a sense of direction, I continue to long to hear the stories only the sands of the desert know and have refused to surrender, even to the sands of time.
Before the break of dawn on our last day, I took my final early morning run in Egypt. I ran along the Interstate outside of the Cairo International Airport. Sublime blossoms, ancient artifacts, statues and obelisks decorated the landscape while blue sky lightened and enveloped the fantastic place. I cared not about the light dust, from wind driven sand, that I breathed in as I ran. I did, however, get frustrated with myself for becoming misty along the run as I returned to the hotel. I listened to a Sister Hazel song on my MP3 player. I had played the same song, on cassette, as I jogged ten years prior on my first visit to Egypt?s Sinai Peninsula. The chorus of the song goes like this:
It once was beautiful right here. Well, it still is beautiful in here. You once were beautiful. I hear it can be beautiful. Just remember.
Later that morning as our plane soared above I watched Egypt?s vast and beautiful land slipping away like grains of desert sand blowing in the wind. From on high I gazed at the cataracts and veins of the Nile pumping life?s blood into the country, as it has since recorded time began. Much too soon the Mediterranean Sea swallowed the terrain and Egypt escaped from my view. I found myself teary once again. As our plane turned upward into the clouds I bid farewell to Kemet. I wept heavily.
I went to Egypt seeking to gain insights and see artifacts from the 17th Dynasty and to try to make a few connections to the Hebrew Bible. Regardless of whether or not my initial questions had reasonable answers, many new questions developed. Perhaps it?s more than simple irony. With nearly every relic I encountered, I found some new piece of information or a new consideration piqued my curiosity.
As I have worked on this piece, I have accepted the painful reality that some questions go unanswered. Some facts remain lost to our time and the desert may continue to shroud her many mysteries until the end of time. Now, more than ever, I believe in the journey--not a pursuit of truth, and certainly not a search for wholeness--I believe in something more.
Regardless of titles and irony, Egypt opened my eyes. I have come to understand that information lies on the path ahead. I shall forge onward, knowing I may never know the unknown, but I take pleasure in seeking. I will return to the sands of Egypt and that of other places as I toil for understanding, for I believe there?s something in the desert that belongs to me. Equally I, unquestionably, categorically and unconditionally, yield that I belong to the desert.