Fear and Courage in The Gobi Desert, Mongolia                       

The Singing Dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Our group climbed the Singing Dune, the highest dune in the Gobi Desert, to watch the sunset one evening. So named because of the unique sound that it makes when the wind blows the right way. I haven’t had much experience with deserts in my life and I’d never seen a sand dune before. This was serious.

Sunset on the Singing Dunes, Gobi desert, Mongolia 

I’m not the biggest fan of heights. As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed how much more often I fear for my mortality. This is synonymous, perhaps, with my growing sense of adventure. I’m scared of dying all the time, but I go ahead and do what I want anyway.

 View of Gobi Desert, Mongolia

The photos do not give an accurate sense of how high the top of the dune is. As I climbed higher, I became increasingly terrified. I feared that I would slide dangerously and lose control. Its just sand, I know! But my rationale fled me. I was climbing the steepest part alone and seriously thought I would die, that I would be spending the rest of my life on top of that dune and would perish shortly. Or I would fall off. Never mind that I was with my group and several others. Watching people running down, diving into the mounds and doing all kinds of jumps. Finally, I took my first tentative steps down and was comforted by how much I sunk into the sand. I wasn’t going to fall off the dune! Halfway down, I was running and laughing and at the bottom, I was in tears. Tears of pride that I had overcome my fears were streaming down my face.

Bright Singing Dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia 

We celebrated by seeking out the first cold beers we had had in days and eating a hearty camel meat stew graciously given to us by our host family.

 Gobi desert panorama

As we devoured our meals and laughed under the impossibly vast night sky, I marveled at how wonderful it is to make those small decisions to do something big.

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