After I quit meth in 2007, I was inspired by, among much else, a book called No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels

Jay Dobyns authored it: writing about his career as an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

Dobyns played football for the University of Arizona, as a wide receiver

Set himself apart by once throwing his body after an errant pass, off the practice field and into a grove of cactus

He played professionally, then entered law enforcement

Had a successful career as an undercover operative, infiltrating the Hells Angels, and countering terrorism and organized crime

Received the United States Attorney General’s Medal of Valor, and the National Association of Police Officers’ “Top Cop” Award, among numerous other accolades

I too was an undercover agent, responsible for assisting the FBI conduct counterterrorism operations

My “career” as such, was less than successful, as it was based upon delusions that came as a result of methamphetamine psychosis

(You can read more my meth psychosis in a previous blog)

Since quitting meth, I’ve been fortunate to have grown as a person, as a member of society, as a spiritual seeker

And as the New Year approached, so too did thoughts of how to foster my continued growth and success

I figured I would begin doing further work on myself, by going back to basics

And planting a cactus

The theory being, if I can keep a cactus alive

Give it the daily attention, and provide the proper conditions, it needs to pursue nature’s course 

Leading to a manifestation of an ideal future, in synchronicity with the consciousness of a loving God/Universe 

(grow it to its best form of succulent)

If I can do all that?

Conceivably, I can do the same for a human being


So on New Year’s Eve Day, as college teams prepared for their Bowl Games

I rode my red Schwinn to North Beach, near where I’d spent my final, devastating year on meth in 2006-2007 (you can read about it in a previous blog)

Filled a Kleen Kanteen with sand which, back at home, I spread over the soil in which I’d repotted a cactus purchased the previous day

I’d prepared the soil, mixing it with old green tea leaves and coffee grounds—good for roots, or so I’d read

My love of reading was instilled in me at a young age by my parents…that love of reading developed into my dream of becoming a writer

It had occurred to me the North Beach sand might contain salt…bad for the roots?

So I’d attempted to rinse the sand, but ended up spilling half of it in my backyard garden

I was able to scrape up most of it with my hands

As a child, I’d play in the sandbox behind our home, my imagination turning downside-up buckets into castle turrets…that imagination playing into my dream of becoming a writer

I included some artifacts with the cactus, to help it develop

A sand dollar I’d found in Crescent City, on a weekend volunteering inside Pelican Bay State Prison, helping men there on their paths to earning legal income, obeying the law

An amethyst crystal…amethyst my February birthstone, said to have properties to dissolve negativity…ironically, “amethyst” translates from Greek as “not intoxicate”

A Buddha statue, purchased near Golden Gate Park, when I’d go on lunch-hour walks among towering eucalyptus trees, from my job at the University of California, before my employers terminated me

A few years later, I found the determination to leave biotech forever, in favor of serving people who are/were incarcerated, serving law enforcement, and pursuing my dream of becoming a writer

It’s interesting how things mix

Jay Dobyns overcame severe setbacks

The obvious challenges posed by a career such as his, yes, but also…

His life and the lives of his family were threatened

His home was set afire by arsonists

He became involved in litigation with his former employers, for failing to protect him and his family

Yet Dobyns continues to inspire me and countless others, by…among other things…hosting a podcast, Copland, featuring guests, and honoring those, who display heroism

Protectors, from backgrounds including police, military, firefighters, and first responders

I’ve listened to almost all the episodes, finding them part of all the other proper conditions I’ve been so generously provided

My cactus requires sunlight, so I began spending an hour or two a day on my sunny front porch, working on my laptop, in pursuit of my dream of being a writer, through being of service to others

Taking my cactus on the porch with me, carefully lifting it from its place on my dresser, setting it gently on the steps

Its green flesh absorbs the sunlight streaming past the thorns

I absorb the light of the Spirit, remembering the Buddha’s words: What we think, we become

As my cactus grows, so too does my gratitude

For those who inspire me: Jay Dobyns, other law enforcement/protectors

The incarcerated persons I work with who are turning their lives around, those who serve them

And you, my reader

It’s interesting, how things mix!

Going into a New Year, I am grateful…finding it a fine time to reflect back on those life’s conditions, which foster proper growth

Resources For You:

If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction

Simply go to my website, and hit the “Download PDF Now” button in the lower right. When you enter your email, you’ll be signed up for my weekly newsletter, Meditations on Meth. Feel free to unsubscribe if you don’t want it.

4 Responses

  1. This crystalized an idea I’d been chewing over all morning. Two threads: “What we think, we become,” and your sincere interest in service, came together in a beautiful way for me. Thanks a lot, Ed!

    1. Thank you Theo for your comment! You remind me of a Shakespeare quote “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (Hamlet). Hope all’s well my friend!

  2. Beautiful post Ed – I love reading your posts and it always helps me think more clearly about something in my life that I may be struggling with, or something coming to the surface. Your cactus makes me smile and I can imagine it is enjoying very happy mornings in the sun. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Lesa, thanks so much for your kind words, and for your amazing encouragement and support. I am grateful. And very glad the blog is helpful to you in some way. Certainly it was inspiration from others that helped me out of very tough times. You are a rock-solid in your dedication to your work turning lives around, I am glad we are friends. Thanks again, looking forward to seeing you very soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *