“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds.”
- Bob Marley ‘Redemption Song’
It was a turning point - one of those pivotal moments in a life that remain etched in your mind forever. The elderly gentleman sat across the table from me; others were present, also, but in that moment, only his eyes locking onto mine existed; all else, including the others, receded into a hazy background.
A patch of bad fortune had recently fallen upon me, but as often happens, my bad fortune was quickly followed by good fortune. First, was falling down an unseen rabbit-hole that challenged my mortal invincibility and questioned my immediate survival, then, followed by the good fortune of an older man whom I trusted, just ‘happening’ to arrive --- from 2000 miles away - Mexico.
Tlakaelel, an elder made wise through 90 years of life experience, had befriended myself and my family a number of years before. That was a previous good fortune - that somehow our paths from Mexico to Michigan would cross and a bond forged. His guidance and friendship had meant much to me throughout the years - but it all felt as if it had been leading up to this point - this single moment. His words became a guide to me out of the darkness. Nothing more than this needed saying, and in fact, I remember nothing more than these words from that visit. These were my marching orders. Five years later, they continue to be. Like seeds planted deep inside of me, I tend them daily, some days better than others, but tended nonetheless - essential truth to be embodied during hard and difficult times:
“If you are enslaved, do not be a slave. If you are imprisoned, do not be a prisoner.”
On this day, these words were planted deeply inside me - and thus began the Restoration of one man: body, heart, mind and spirit.