Purpose Work | From the Desert, Together, With Love

Purpose Work | From the Desert, Together, With Love

This post tells of the emergence of what I now call PurposeWork from my experience in the desert in December 2019 together with Miki Kashtan and Enin Mychele. We spent 4 weeks in harrowing conditions doing the various things we needed to do for daily living. In between bursts of hot sun, snow and ice, flooding, and sandstorms we inhabited the various structures available to us for sleeping, meeting, eating, and relaxing. We slept, weather dependent, in either a leaky tent or a beaten up dust-filled trailer, keeping warm and relaxing by interchangeably hanging out in the hot springs, and walking up and down the road nearby the camping ground. Our intention to go on day trips, so extending our range of potential walking ground past the road by our site, was thwarted by the fact that so much fuel was used dealing with a surprise flash flood as we entered the desert, due to so much snow on the surrounding mountains. The doorway on our ability to leave was closed because of the dangerous amount of ice and snow on the passes. So much happened on that trip, what I write here related to PurposeWork is by necessity only a very minute part of it. Fortunately, I wasn’t there alone and you can see Miki’s post here, which gives a run down of how we navigated our days together; the purpose and agreements container we created, and significant learning related to it, which is also now integrated into PurposeWork

If you take a look at our purpose and agreements document from the desert, you will see that an element of our mission was “to surrender to the wisdom and rhythm of the desert”. What follows is a description of one of my “surrender to the desert” experiences, and which now forms the conceptual underpinning and overall vision that I hold within me as I develop and carry out my work supporting alignment to purpose through consciously made agreements.

I decided to take some time to wander on my own in the hills surrounding our campsite. Before I left, we sat together, the three of us, to set an intention for my time. Since I was young, having grown up pretty wild on the moors and around the ocean in Cornwall, with parents who allowed me to simply come home when I was hungry, I have a deep connection to life and the non-human world. I am very open and intuitive, have a deep capacity for listening, and sensitivity to what I have now come to know as “flow” – more on this below. The intention we set was for me to deepen into this place of flow, and to receive whatever wisdom there was for me to receive. 

I left the campsite, together with supplies of food, water and a blanket for warmth, walking across the uneven ground half-an-hour or so away from our tent. I scrambled over the rocky hummocks, through endless rubble, rocks of so many sizes and colours I began to feel a bit overwhelmed, irritated even. I wondered why I had come out only to struggle to walk and to continually need to be looking down at all the rocks rather than up at the vast sky and mountainous terrain with its vibrant strata. A thought came to my mind of wanting to organise it all! All these rocks! I had an urge to turn back, suddenly unsure of the purpose of my quest. 

I came up onto a small plateau and sat down on the sand next to a desert holly bush, a bush I came to really adore for its small and soft yet spiky muted green-grey leaves and delicate red berries. I commune with plants and feel myself supported and held in general within the non-human world; something else savoured from a childhood spent entirely outdoors and with little to no suppression of the intuitive wisdom that arose within me from there. I don’t remember right now the entirety of what I received in that moment, though my notebook tells me the following:

“I don’t need to reorganise everything. Life is flow…listen for the patterns that are most conducive to purpose…design along them.”



Expanding my perception to include the whole of where I was; the many coloured rocks, the scratchy plants, the mountain strata, and me, I received a visceral sense that all that was filling me to the brim of my awareness was simply one never-ending wave of matter in motion through time. I realised within this that my irritation at the “disorganised” rocks was akin to irritation at the spray coming off of a wave. Life is simply moving, the overall vision being simply the continuation of this flow; the eternal cycle of arising and passing, rocks forming and eroding to dust, the seasons, the blooming and decay of flowers, my life, yours – arising, blooming, fading, dissolving. I saw how the different land formations gave way to other forms of life, the symbiotic interrelation of all things. I saw in that moment that this flow is life.



This insight, as well as all that is written on Miki’s blog, forms the essence of what I received in the desert and underlies the work I now do with purpose and agreements. I have since gained more understanding of the different elements; I have a clearer sense of what purpose means to me within the context of a world subsumed by patriarchal conditioning, and I have increased my capacity to discern what are the patterns most conducive to purpose and what it means to design along them. I have also developed clarity that the work I do is not for the purpose of supporting us to individually find a sense of meaning in our lives, but as a direct subversion of our patriarchal conditioning and reclamation of our humanness.


No Comments

Leave a Reply

Emma Quayle - Embedding Nonviolence. Resourcing for Change.