And yet, my car still carries New York plates. And I still go “home” to New York every month. Though I’ve been living in Atlanta for almost a year. Some habits are harder to break than others.
During my May 2014 stay in #ATL, my mentor, Maya Angelou, passed away. I cried and cried when I heard the news. Borrowing her voice, I wrote a piece to celebrate her life of words through mine. She inspired so much of who I am. The way she loved without apology. Or limits. How she acted with complete conviction. Her loyalty. And that amazing heart! I strive to keep her spirit alive in mine. Even though she was a Yankees fan….
My future seemed clear a year ago, but I could feel the murky waters rising, and rising still. Fate was taking over. Because I stopped making choices and started listening to circumstance instead. In truth, bad faith has nothing to do with religion. That’s when Maya Angelou and Dr. King visited me in a dream. I wasn’t sure what it all meant at the time. But Dr. King had given me advice before he died. And his wife, Coretta, had asked me to talk about it at an event to commemorate him here in Atlanta. It was 1969. James Earl Jones was there. So was Maya Angelou. And a whole crowd of famous faces. Then, I heard my name being called to the podium. That’s when I woke.
Dr. King’s advice was not one of his famous quotes. But it was meant to inspire me, to move me forward by facing my fears, and to reassure me that even though I felt like a leaf being blown about in a wind storm, it wasn’t so.
Those were not his words. They’re mine. His exact words will stay my secret. At least, for the time being….
Last night, one year after I drove for 15-hours to begin my three-week Atlanta-adventure, a friend called needing relationship advice. She stood on the same precipice I had a year ago. I didn’t even think about the timing until today. I went over my last year with her. But now I wonder if the Universe was just giving me the chance to review in a way I would understand. As a teacher. Though we typically make poor students, I have always loved the benefit of learning through teaching. And, indeed, I learned a great deal.
Earlier today, as I enjoyed the sunshine in my backyard, a dreamy place that sits on the edge of a forest, I ate breakfast on the patio of my beautiful home, a home I had only fantasized about one year ago. Today, that dream is a reality. And recognizing that prompted me to reflect on the last twelve months again, but this time, without a social filter.
My life is infinitely better today than it was at this time last year. Even if there were some unexpected twists and dangerous turns in the road. Despite the anger, sorrow, grief, and pain, there was love. There was unexpected friendship. And a renewal of faith in myself. Faith, you see, is what #Georgians are known for. Every soul I’ve encountered here has strengthened mine. I feel lucky—no, #blessed—to have had the opportunity to learn in what has become a magnificent natural classroom.
Georgia’s State stone is quartz. Amethyst quartz, actually. But if you dig in the red clay a bit, you can easily find hunks of the clear variety. I have multiple such specimens, all gifts. I’ve built a cairn out of them. Cairns were markers along trails. They date back to prehistory, used throughout the ages to convey some sort of knowledge to man. Fitting for me to mark my road less traveled to Georgia with a quartz cairn. Like the dream with Dr. King.
King was born in Atlanta but educated in Boston. It was the opposite for me. But no less profound. I can only pray—yes, pray—that my education might enlighten others as well as King’s did.
By the way, Dr. King was a Red Sox fan…did you know???