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One pleasant aspect of desert camping for me is the act of peeing. There is something liberating about relieving myself in wide open spaces. Flushing toilets were a great invention and certainly have their place where humans live in close proximity but absent the crowds – who needs them? To be able to mindlessly let go and not worry about hitting a target (toilet bowl) is one obvious advantage of going au natural. Another is the anytime, anyplace convenience. No need to clamp down, cross one’s legs, or dance around impatiently – just whip it out and cut loose.

But these are minor considerations. While daytime peeing is more or less a biological necessity, a simple response to an urge, nighttime peeing is in a class all its own. Peeing under the stars is a mystical, almost magical experience for me. When I wake up in the night and slip out of the trailer to relieve myself I seem to enter another world. You see, the act of peeing is a moment of enforced inactivity. A guy is standing there, legs spread wide, and where is he going to go? What can he do? It is, of necessity, a time for reflection. As is usually the case in the desert, the night sky is full of stars. I invariably look up at them and I am reminded that astronomers have determined that those tiny points of light are actually violent nuclear furnaces separated from us by unimaginable distances. I think it is the vastness of the universe that overwhelms me as I stand there. I see myself as a tiny, random entity tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of existence and the feeling I have is one of awe. I have been reminded of my own insignificance – a necessary task, for, like a small child, I have a tendency during daylight hours to see myself as the center of the universe.

After standing thus for thirty seconds or so, transfixed by the night sky, properly humbled by universal vastness and feeling the soothing abatement of pressure within my bladder, I turn and grope my way back into the unlit interior of our trailer where I re-enter the soothing warm space between the sheets of our bed. That foreign realm where I am alone among the stars, where the day-to-day rules that govern our civilized lives don’t apply, is outside now – out there where distances are measured in light years and objects the size of our planet are small change. My brief excursion into the mystical desert night is over and I am again reassured that I am who I have always imagined myself to be – the center of the universe.

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