The Resurrection Plant tells of one man’s mission to see clearly the truth about his troubled past and to reach the source of his self-destructive behaviors. Ricard began life as a homeless immigrant, spent time on the streets gangbanging, and wound up in prison. Though the streets, his schools, his workplaces, and sometimes his own family told him he was worthless, he held to a belief that he deserved better. After dying many deaths, he fought his way from the hood to the woods, from the ghetto to greatness.
From Homeless To Author : Turned My Pain Into Greatness
I can understand how a human being could commit such a deplorable act as murder. Does that surprise you? Maybe you’re already beginning to wonder just what kind of person wrote this book. Or maybe you’re one of those people who has thought I could just kill him! and you think that it’s not so hard to understand the capacity for murder.
Let me start by assuring you that, among my many crimes and sins, murder, thank God, is not one of them. Not that I didn’t find or place myself in situations where I might have killed someone. Not that I don’t know people who found or placed themselves in similar situations and actually carried through with the deed. But for whatever reason, God spared me the burden of that ultimate guilt.
Let me add that casual thoughts like I could kill him are not comparable to the depth of rage and indignation that energizes the actual impulse to take your hand and draw blood, the years of micro-traumas that deaden the heart to concern for others or for your own future. There’s a terrible distance between the impotence of I could kill him and the conviction of I’m gonna kill him.
I understand how someone could kill someone else because I have been witness to all manner of gruesome deeds, to acts of bloody violence, to macabre scenes of mutilation and mercilessness. I’ve seen the reality of the asphalt jungle, and it’s not the stuff of 40s noir thrillers. It’s a world built on brute strength, canniness, and dumb luck. It’s a world steeped in drugs, sex, booze, and blood. A world that weeds out the weak, beats out the snakes and snitches, and rewards a kind of loyalty that can end you up in jail.
I’m not proud of this. I didn’t ask to see any of this, but from as early as age five my world inflicted these moments upon me. I grew up thinking I had the magical ability to be in the worst place at the worst time to see the worst things. Seeing what I saw, learning what I learned, was just par for the course. It was the information you needed to process in order to navigate the ghetto. It was the trauma you needed to experience to survive the hood. It bred fatalism, depression, abuse, self-destructive behaviors, and even suicidality. You don’t survive the ghetto by being a good person, which means you don’t come out much liking the person you’ve become.
It is not lightly that I say that by the grace of God I have overcome my past traumas and been restored from the perverse thinking that nearly led me to kill myself. And you will see that my story is not one of easy redemption but of patterns of self-destructive behavior and hard-fought battles for small and fragile successes. Not everyone I’ve known can say as much. Some could not escape their past and have become unrecognizable shadows of their former selves. Some are still strung out on drugs. Some live in an 8’ x 12’ cell. Some wound up six feet underground, their troubles over at last.
I used to think the main goal of life was just to survive it—or at least to enjoy myself before some hot head came along and ended me early. If life was a jungle, then be a big cat, strong and fierce and looking down at the rest of the food chain. If life was a desert wilderness, then be a cactus, impenetrable and durable and prickly. No one ever tells you that the big cats live in constant fear that there’s a bigger cat out there, or that a human cactus is as likely to prick himself as someone else.
There’s another kind of desert plant that better describes the experience of surviving and overcoming trauma. The resurrection plant, or rose of Jericho, can survive in the desert for years without water. Its roots may detach and it will blow about the sand, apparently dead, as tumble weed. However, give it just a little bit of water and it can grow new roots and revive. Its dense leaves can even turn green again, and it can send out spores to take root and reproduce itself.
Think about that. What the world sees as a dead weed blowing in the wind is really a mother or father awaiting the moment it can fulfill its purpose. Not everyone will have the depth and volume of traumas as I have (some may even have more), but anyone can appreciate the experience of going through a drought in their lives. The resurrection plant reminds us—reminds me, at least—that mere survival is not our destiny. I believe the purpose of survival is to prepare us for our purpose.
Sure, if you’re a plant, then your purpose does not extend far beyond reproduction; the analogy breaks down. For a human being, however, purpose means living for something, leaving a mark or a legacy. It means sending out little spores of influence that produce beautiful new seedlings that will carry forward some trace of your history.
It can be easy during the periods of drought to succumb to negative thoughts and feelings. I know as well as anyone how every part of your life can feel like a gun pointed at you, from your teachers to your “friends” to your own family. I know as well as anyone how it can seem easier to throw up your hands in defeat and become the street punk everyone takes you for already.
But I also know that as much as life can throw obstacles in your way—sometimes huge and tragic obstacles—it also gives you lucky breaks, second chances, and opportunities to take charge of our destinies. Unfortunately, we can’t always see them as such in the moment, or even if we do we cannot believe it worth the risk. One of my hopes is that through telling my story I can give you the hope and encouragement you need to see those chances for what they are and to seize them. You will have to wage a constant, tiresome struggle against your own negative thinking—believe me, I know—but I’m living proof that it is worth it.
I wouldn’t say that I’m grateful for my experiences. Like I said, I didn’t ask for them and they left deep, painful wounds in my soul. But I can certainly say that every beating the world gave me helped to shape me into the resilient, adaptable, and (to the extent that I am) wise person I have become. Now that I have become a speaker, teacher, and executive and life coach, I can use my story to inspire others, planting little seedlings of myself in the hopes that I can leave the world a little greener and fresher than how I found it.
And before I get back to the narrative, let me speak to anyone who may be reading this and have hit rock bottom in their life, perhaps for the second, third, or umpteenth time: Keep in mind that nothing lasts forever—unless you want it to. Yeah, you are facing some very real problems, and a lot of them are out of your control, but if you’re reading this book it means you’ve already overcome one of the most difficult inner obstacles: absolute despair. If you’ve come this far, then you are a survivor, period. And you may be curled up in a tight ball of dead leaves, but with a little bit of water you can begin to take root and open up to the world.
It’s my hope that this book can be that first drop of water that gives you hope that you can become like new again.