Dear Future Me,
The next time you feel like a fish out of water, remember this:
You took a small airplane from New York City to Montgomery, Alabama. From the window seat on the right side of the plane, you saw a blood orange and pink colored cloud suspended against the vast grey sky. It was peculiar how lightning struck inside the gaseous shape but not outside. The strikes made an unpredictable pattern of glowing light in their wake. You flew past this cloud with ease. The pilot mentioned that there were isolated storms.
You found your two colleagues at baggage claim and together picked up the rental car. Tomorrow you’ll begin parsing out your work schedule together. The day after tomorrow you’ll drive to Elaine, Arkansas, where the core of your exploration resides.
Today, we visit and meet with a representative at the Equal Justice Initiative. A non-profit house of lawyers and memorial makers for the legacy of racial terror in America. Their headquarters building is a former slave auction house. It’s in walking distance from the Alabama River.
We emerge from the air conditioning into the sweltering summer heat. We walk to the river. There’s a historical marker that notes this loading dock was used for trading both cotton and people. With no certainty of direction, we continue on and let the historical markings lead our way.
To Court Square. The bus stop where Rosa Parks refused her seat.
To the Greyhound Station. A museum for the Freedom Riders.
To Dexter Street that leads to the foot of the Alabama State Capitol. Its shape is blurry in the thick haze of midday.
To pass by the First White House of the Confederacy. A still rocking chair on the porch.
To the Southern Poverty Law Center. A guard stands at the entrance.
It’s late in the afternoon now, so we drive just outside of downtown Montgomery to our hotel. Before dinner, we decide to meet for reflection by the pool.
As my friend is riffing about her memorable questions and experiences from our day, my eyes drift to watch the sun peek through the clouds. Her voice is distant. I’m no longer following her story. A wave of energy engulfs my body. Evenly paced, it moves from head to feet like a scanner. I rub my chest, lightly at first so as to not be distracting. It doesn’t change the tingling energy. I press a little harder now, as if to break through my skin.
I change my focus. The crack in the concrete. My friend who’s talking. My other friend who’s listening. The debris in the pool.
My heart center feels penetrated. There’s an opening sensation and tingles that reverberate. I think to myself that change is occurring. Discomfort means transformation. It provokes presence. I feel the concrete imprint my legs.
I can’t process the physical transformation peacefully because my mind is searching for an answer to justify the tingling.
I jump in the pool. And the water feels good. I caress my arms, my neck and I make gentle waves in the water. Feeling weightless is exquisite.
Remember, this was a time when you listened to your body first. You were moved into presence.