16. On Surrender, Resilience, and Self-Love


“What makes the desert beautiful,' said the little prince, 'is that somewhere it hides a well...”

-       Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

From a distance, the desert is uniform and monotonous. Up close, however, it’s hearty, resilient, and complex. What first made me fall in love with it was that much like life, the more you pay attention to it, the more it unfolds.


Whether it was fate, destiny, serendipity, or the product of my own creation, after one of my life’s more uncomfortable seasons, I found myself living at the edge of El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende’s high-desert botanical garden. At 65 hectares (160 acres) and an altitude of 1900 meters (6,200 feet), it’s home to more than 100 butterfly species, 156 bird species, and 550 plant species.

How I found myself living there was that shortly after New Year’s Day, my former landlady decided to reclaim the spacious, modern loft she was renting me. With the snow birds from the north flocking in droves to central Mexico’s most artsy town, finding a comfortable place to live, without the added high-season inflation tax, was proving to be all the more challenging. Seeing as my last few months of 2018 were full of turmoil, unrest, and uncertainty, like a beaten-down pugilist, I lacked the fight to go on. When you have no more fight left in you, you have one of two choices; surrender or die. Due to my commitment to self-preservation both as a human and an organism, the latter was not an option.

Down but not out, through grace and good fortune my friend and guardian angel of San Miguel de Allende, Linda Hampton, offered me stay in the casita on her property. While it was a bit outside of town, it wasn’t exactly uncomfortable. I had my own spacious casita, access to her kitchen in a home adorned with art, three dogs to love me unconditionally, and a pool by which to lounge…What I could not have known in my moment of surrender was that my time at Casa del Linda would serve as a safe place to rehabilitate, and that the unexpected gift of the desert would be a propellant for healing and awakening.


Originating from the northeast corridor of the United States and having spent the previous 18 years in the Pacific Northwest, I had never experienced the terrain, climate, or energy of a high desert. The desert is a place of extremes where the temperature can swing from -1°C (30°F) before sunrise to 49°C (120°F) in the late afternoon. During the course of a day, as the sun arches from the eastern to western horizon and the corresponding light saunters across the stark, arid landscape, the desert becomes a character in a novel who evolves in unpredictable ways. To add to its mystique, when the summer rains ascend, the desert transforms from an Ansel Adams photograph into a Monet painting. It took me almost no time to realize that the energy the desert provided was an endless fountain of healing and inspiration, and that the more I visited it, the more its elegant, cooperative beauty would unfold before me.

As a writer, the greatest tool I have in my toolbox is the power of observation. Observation is not only what colors a story—it’s not only what reveals the wounds, motivations, or psychology behind a person or character’s actions—it also marks the passage of time. How? Time is the passage of weather, seasons, people, lovers, blossoms and blooms, and the emergence (and thus hibernation) of insects, amphibians, and mammals. It is further marked by the birth of children, the death of loved ones, the upheavals of political events, the revolutions that inspired them, and the social movements that push society forward. To live at the edge of a high desert botanical garden, and to be able to visit it at a whim, gave me the luxury to observe my external life and the passage of time eternal, while juxtaposing it with my internal life, and the passage of time ephemeral.

One day while traversing upon a path, I observed crickets mating, which I found to be steely, focused, and meditative, while on another day I observed butterflies mating, which I viewed as poetic, ecstatic, and majestic. Other days I observed vermillion flycatchers, curved-bill thrashers, and monarch butterflies cutting through the air in sharp angles and dramatic movements, all dancing in the embodied expression of the same energy that created me.

Over the course of three weeks, I watched a steady procession of leafcutter ants (which, in addition to being the largest and most complex animal society on Earth beyond humans, is also the only species beyond humans able to make its own food) go about their business in service of the queen. Like a well-organized army, they were ranked from the grunts, who marched in a line, sometimes carrying things 20 times their weight, to scouts who patrolled the perimeters, to the larger ants who defended their nest from foreign invaders. Observing the tiny creatures, I thought about how all of us are in service to someone or something, and how just as I am a greater intelligence marveling at the simplicity and complexity of this lower life form, so too is there probably a greater intelligence observing humans and thinking the same.

Equally as curious were the survival mechanisms cactuses had adopted to evolve over countless millennia—how many have learned to grow their roots in nutrient-lacking soil and how some, such as the garambullo, the prickly pear, or the barrel cactus, learned to grow from the cracked walls of canyons. Others, like the nopal—a staple of Mexican cuisine and whose varieties are as vast as the North America apple—have grown massive spikes due to their edible (and thus vulnerable) interior. And still others, much like some people, invite you in with their beauty, yet get too close and you receive a prickly, thorny rebuke.

The paradox of the desert is that it is at once harsh, arid, and sunbaked, while at the same time quiet, peaceful, and giving. In its understated, and perhaps under-appreciated way, it is abundant with life. If one were to look upon the desert from high above, you would see one living, breathing organism, and yet if you drilled down from the level of its flora, fauna, and aviary species—all the way down to the level of lichens, bacteria, fungus, and the corpuscle—you’d find hidden treasures and symbiotic relationships as vast as the stars. As an example, when the Spanish conquistadors appeared on the continent in the 16th century, the color red—a symbol of wealth, power, and status—was everywhere. What they soon learned from the Aztecs was the dye that created the color came from a tiny white insect called the cochineal. The cochineal lives on the pads of the prickly pear cactus, and without a trained eye, it would look like nothing more than a white blemish. When dried and crushed, the minuscule, nondescript creature produces a rich, red dye. Behind silver and gold, this dye became the area’s third largest export. By the 16th and 17th century, the result was that the cochineal launched Spain on a path towards becoming a global economic superpower, created a red craze throughout Europe, and went on to revolutionize art history.

From competition to cooperation, in the mirror of the desert I could see the entire spectrum of humanity. Simply by observing the desert, I was learning about my life, and as I did so, in the mirror of nature’s intricate beauty, the learnings of my own journey were being magnified.


When you close your eyes and connect into the energy of a place or space, it whispers to you. As the desert is a place full of history, lore, and the transitions of people, plants, and ideas, it has many things to share, but you must become still to hear it.

On my first day in the garden, I sat beneath the shelter of a mesquite tree and did just that—I closed my eyes, let go of all thoughts, and focused on the tingling sensation within and all around me. That sensation is the commingling of the outer and the inner—the energy that inhabits us and the field of energy in which we inhabit. This ubiquitous energy is always present and available to us; most of us just haven’t been trained to put our attention on it. As I sat there beneath that tree, the stillness enveloping me, I heard the desert whisper: How fitting it is that life has delivered you to the edge of the high desert, after all, what speaks more to resilience than that which grows in the desert?

As I continued to focus in on, and connect to, the energy around me, I expanded my own field of energy into the space around my body. In doing so, my focus was no longer on my body, but on the field of energy around it. This is, after all, the energy that holds the universe together, so logic has it that it must possess a greater degree of knowledge, information, and intelligence then I can access on my own.

As I did so, the thought entered my mind, I wire my brain for the mystical. It was peculiar because I did not think this thought, rather, it downloaded to me. Not one to doubt the information, I placed my attention within my head, purposely feeling the unification of both hemispheres of my brain fire and wire in the name of the mystical.

Curious by the information I received, I decided to play with this energy by furthering my inquiry. As I cleared all thought and moved into trance, I asked the question: What energy do I need to tune into? Whether voiced by the desert or my own subconscious, as if an echo bouncing off canyon walls only to return to its source, the answer came back to—self-love.

Dumbstruck by the reply, as soon as the thought entered my consciousness, it multiplied with the rapidity of an algal bloom. Self-love is a subject I have been pondering, working on, asking to know more intimately, and desiring to awaken to. To truly love one’s self is to accept the limitations and shortcomings of our humanity (which in certain areas of my life, I’ve been challenged to come to terms with), while stepping into and embracing the limitlessness of our divinity (which, the acceptance of this responsibility, can also be challenging by its daunting nature).

In that moment, it became my personal understanding that this is what it means to awaken to the I AM—the universal key that unlocks all doors of creation. I AM is the power of the Word merged with the power of Directed Consciousness. It is the unification and alignment of the mind, body, and spirit within the declaration of self. Stated more simply, we become the totality of what we say, think, act, and feel.

No matter your belief, we can all agree upon the limitations of language when it comes to energy and the greater mystery of the universe. As someone whose personal mission statement it is to translate light, frequency, and energy into story so as to lead others to their truth, at least in this moment of my life, my job was simply to walk around the desert, observe the mystery, let it consume me, and articulate it as best I can.

And so it was I came to a deeper understanding that to awaken to the I AM is to know that all possibilities exist as energetic potentials in an immaterial field of information called the quantum field. In the first law of thermodynamics, the total amount of energy in a closed system (in this case, let’s call this closed system the totality of all that is, both visible and invisible, material and immaterial) cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. To take this one step further, in physics, through the observer effect, simply by observing something we alter it. So the I AM is the ability to alter matter/reality through consciousness simply by observing something into being. Allow me for a moment to boil this down.

If you were to remove all the elements of this complex bouillabaisse, leaving only its liquid broth, the reduction you’d be left with is the creative process. The first step of the creative process is to dream. The second step is to fill in that dream as if it were an image in a coloring book. The third step is to keep revisiting that dream, each time filling in this image more and more until, metaphorically speaking, it transforms from a 2-dimensional idea on a piece of paper into a 3-dimensional hologram. To make the leap from the coloring book to quantum physics, that hologram is the pattern of the dream that already exists (beyond the speed of light and beyond the visible light spectrum) as light and information the field. The more you revisit or observe that dream, or the pattern of the dream, the more you slow it down. As the pattern of light and information slows down below the speed of light, division and polarity occurs, which is where the dream begins to take form as matter, experiences, events, serendipities, or synchronicities. Let’s look at this another way, but before we do, it’s important to remember what Einstein said: “The field is the sole governing agency of the particle.”

No matter how novel your flash of brilliance might be, when you come up with an idea, you are connecting with the energy of something that already exists in the field. The more you connect to this idea, as you observe it, circumvent it, and move through it—as you connect with the feelings of what the fruition of this idea might feel like—you begin filling in a mental image of something that already exists as a potential. The more you focus on this potential, the more you bring form to it—and the more you bring form to it, the closer it comes into existence. As an example, imagine looking up into the infinite lattice of the night sky. Then imagine that every star is an atom of potential. The more you focus in on a specific portion of the sky, as you apply your imagination and attention, you begin to cluster the atoms until all the sudden a form appears and you see Orion, Cassiopeia, Leo, Cancer, Taurus, Ursa Major and Minor, and so on and so on.


Although invisible to others, for months my internal world felt like dice in a Yahtzee tumbler. The challenge was not necessarily due to a broken heart or that the vulnerabilities I shared might have been exploited. That was simply a catalyst to confront the well-rooted legacy stories of my life.

For months, perhaps a year, a new self had been calling out to me, and yet I—the free-willed human being—resisted it. Resistance, whether found in an engine or the heart, is eventually going to wear down the machinery that evokes the function. If this resistance is found in the heart, the result is likely going to be lot of unnecessary pain. That pain is the result of friction caused by fear—and that brand of fear is the manifestation of our resistance to the soul’s expansion into the new, unformed edges of our being. To push outward into the unknown and often uncomfortable dimensions of the self is what it means to be initiated, and if we are paying attention, every initiation we pass awakens us to I AM.

And so in carefully observing all that the desert was reflecting back to me, I was forced to make a decision; surrender my legacy stories or remain living within the limitations of their confines and contours.

With the fervor and unconscious desperation that the cactus clings to the canyon wall, so too have I clung to my life’s legacy stories. Now it’s important to note here, dear reader, that these stories are not necessarily based in reality. Life is a series of concurrent events. Some are joyful and some are painful, thus we attach to them a corresponding emotion—and emotions carry meaning. The more we revisit these events, the more they become etched in our memories, and the more they become etched in our memories, the greater the stories we attach to them.

When we gain some distance and emotional freedom from the inciting or source incident of our pain, perspective allows us to see its service as one of life’s most important tools for awakening. Through this mirror, I realized my pain was, and has always been, the crack in which the light enters. On one hand, the awakening that commanded my attention was the fact that I was not my stories. On the other hand, the awakening that was calling me from my past to my future was that resilience is having the strength to keep going when you can’t see the road ahead. It also means having the courage to keep pushing up against those stories until—like when we confront the demons of our imagination by looking them square in the eye—the fictitious nature of that which once haunted us is revealed, thus igniting an energetic process of reverse osmosis. In the absence of the void these stories once filled, I was awakening to the I AM.

While sitting beneath that mystical mesquite tree, I felt a deeper trust than I had in a long time. In recognition of the calm within—the result of grace and the pendulum swinging from internal turmoil to a cathedral of peace—I breathed more deeply into the moment. As I released myself further into its gentle embrace, it dawned on me that peace is the alignment of our physicality with our higher-self (or soul) within the paradigm (or physical dimension) of time and space. The deeper I moved into this epiphany, the more it peeled back like the layers of a fresh artichoke waiting to be lathered in liquid butter. Similar to what I expressed in my book, once again—without doing anything but simply living, being, and showing up—an old form that no longer served me was effortlessly molting.

In the absence of that which no longer served me was my naked, liberated soul, eager to undertake the next expansive chapter of my journey, a journey whose design would take me closer to that which I desire to know greater—the source of the mystery—myself. After all, the source energy of the mystery is experiencing itself through my corporeal existence.


It is not only the desire, but the intrinsic nature of the soul to experience growth and expansion. These two aspects of life occur via our senses, those visceral portals through which we learn what it means to be human. In this context, life then is not only an awakening, but a remembering of who and what we are—the truth being that we are souls (or consciousness) embodied in a physical vessel, the purpose of which is to poke about the physical world classifying, dissecting, learning, and looking for clues that help us remember the singularity from which we were engendered.

As a form of energy, the power of the soul—which is the individual aspect of the universal consciousness—is that it is has been granted the autonomy to direct its energy. The byproduct of this autonomy is free will, which means that from within the physical form we have the freedom to direct this energy however we choose. The discoveries we make, as a result of the choices we take, can form the path back to eternal, divine love—the highest of all frequencies. Love heals, love forgives, love unites, and love creates oneness and wholeness.

When we are in a state of wholeness, everything we need is already within us. As we awaken to this truth, when we as a collective realize we already have at our fingertips all we need to serve, expand, and uplift the collective—when greed and the stockpiling of resources is eliminated, when we realize we all came from the same source energy—we will finally know peace on Earth. In achieving this degree of peace, the human species will evolve into something greater, and it will move into an an entirely new evolutionary period, the likes of which will seem like the science-fiction of yesteryears. In this new reality, what today might be categorized as a miracle may simply be something we take for granted as the pointed focus of the individual mind in the service of the universal conscious—or said another way—in service of our fellow men, woman, and children of Mother Earth.

In this historical evolutionary moment of becoming, like the pylon and the pier, you are being called to surrender that which no longer serves you so as to awaken to your greatest potential. This means having the courage to share the gifts with which you’ve been bestowed, and that means standing in the expression of your own truth, not in opposition—which is the device of many religions and politics—but in an addition to the whole. This will require you to be responsible for your own healing, which requires you to move beyond survival into creation.

As more and more people become responsible for their own healing, because consciousness is a wave, at some point we will reach critical mass, and the change we desire will come with increased frequency.

Then, much like the tillandsia, an airplant I observed that grows on the underside of some trees found in El Charco del Ingenio, perhaps human beings as a collective can evolve from the parasitic mindset that has grasped our species for many millennia, to an epiphytic mindset, after all—the epiphyte does not take from its host, but rather it lives in harmony with, and contributes to, the whole of its ecosystem.

Do you need help editing/writing your book? Or do you simply need a writing coach/accountability partner? And of course I’d be remiss by saying if you like the ideas in this piece, then you will like the ideas in my book. Check out the book trailer now.