I stood erect for a moment, hands stretched with fingers to the ground, yoga-style, allowing the sun to caress my face. Most times, with our eyes closed, and our heart spread-eagle to the universe, we can take in the landscape of a place more vividly. It’s as if your imagination scurries to file away the beauty you just witnessed in the vaults of memory and subconscious.
Having just lunched on fresh and flavorful octopus accompanied by a jalapeño-infused margarita that has my toes gripping my flip-flops for leverage — it’s time to kiss Playa Del Carmen and my favorite seafood joint-slash-global-office-slash-hideaway: La Fisheria, a thankful hasta luego.
We’re Tulum-bound — yes, we — you & me (since you’re reading this). But first, I needed to take that moment for myself. What shall be referred to as a mini-break in the program, the kind of moment that’s about: “Ok, this is happening. I’m so happy. My body is flooded with good vibes, I’m high off of dopamine, and my soul thinks it can sing like Otis Redding. Wow, life is good! I’m so grateful.” You know those moments, right? Those are good ones, and we need to allow ourselves to be suspended in them, to really feel the sum of all gratitude.
The drive to Tulum from Playa Del Carmen is about 45 minutes, there’s a cold-front that has moved in on Quintana Roo, so the wind and dark clouds have insisted on accompanying us (you, me, a friend and the driver — this is a group activity) the whole way. But that’s not going to dampen (well, perhaps just a tinge) my quest.
I’ve always loved how Writer & Entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau claims that we’re all on a quest, all of us. It’s never about the end result, but the voyage, the process. A quest encompasses a goal infused with adventure. As Guillebeau says: “It’s your life, so why not be intentional about it? Pursue meaningful adventures.” My meaningful adventure right now is to sit within the ruins of Tulum overlooking the bluest ocean I have set my hazel peepers on, with my crumpled palm-size travel notepad I purchased a year ago in Cuba and my favorite navy-blue pencil with the word DREAMS etched on it, to write this piece.
The instant the beat-up metallic trolley that takes visitors to the ruins pulled up to the rock arch that leads to the sacred space with its backdrop of turquoise waters, the sun summoned the clouds to hopscotch along to another playground. This, I viewed as a sign. I felt I was meant to be there and connect to the energy of such an exalted place. I mean — let’s just discuss this — The Mayans believed the gods descended here, and I wanted front row. If you can’t find inspiration here, done…finito…pack it up, baby.
“I felt I was meant to be there and connect to the energy of such an exalted place…The Mayans believed the gods descended here, and I wanted front row.”
I started to get excited and anxious. I didn’t want to have any expectations, solely aspirations of all the wonderful enlightenment that would spark the second I sat Indian-style on the limestone rock, but come on, we’re human; expectations are in our default portion of the brain, lodged somewhere close to the amygdala, I bet. My anxiety had me seeing visions: Geraldo Rivera and an empty Al Capone vault. I wasn’t coming up empty.
I sat on the side, on a rock wall looking toward the ocean as the wind tickled my face with strands of my own hair. Taking in a deep long breath, and exhaling until my body felt comfortable and my focus was my given mantra; I allowed what needed to occur, to occur. The first 10 minutes, nothing. Just the taste of the salt air and calmness, about 17 minutes in, still nothing, I was okay, though. I understood just being there meant I had at least set out on the quest. Like John Steinbeck says: “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” So, I simply surrendered. What better gift can we give to ourselves than to stop resisting the present moment?
It was as if my brain was compiling everything it had digested in the last 6 months — sort of quickly sorting through it and arriving at different gems of knowledge…zooming in, before moving swiftly to the next. I felt like Bradley Cooper in Limitless or Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, or maybe just Francesca Cruz originally from Hialeah sitting cross-legged in a magical place of ancient worship.
It was fascinating and scary. I didn’t want to miss out on anything, and yet I was a bit frightened by where my mind and imagination wanted to take me. One quote that I felt this hyper-pull toward was from the Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön: “We have everything we need. All these trips we lay on ourselves, the heavy-duty fear that we are bad, hoping to be good. The identity that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy, the addictions of all kinds, never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun.”
And there it was — that message kept coming up, in different text with bolder colors and backdrops of sunsets, water and landscapes, as if my brain wanted to sear it into my subconscious. There was no magical genie appearing from a lamp. I was that magic. We all carry that within. We carry our wealth inside. Our perception is everything. How do we choose to see the things that we encounter, or what takes place in our lives — positive or negative? Everything that occurs in our life is an opportunity for growth, and all we really ever have is our now. Surrender is not about defeat; surrender is actually about yielding to the wealth within.
It was time to go, the sun was now mighty and upon us, flirting with our shadows. My heart felt full and beamed. As I stood to leave, my raggedy notebook fell to my feet with a light thump and a baby cloud of dust, and opened to a quote I had written a day before from Mayan Elder Carlos Barrios. I share it with you now as we part: “The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.”