“I feel your anger in your pulse.”
Yet again my acupuncture physician revealed my heart to me. Immediately, she ignored my statement of “I’m okay” and began listening to my pulse. She always seems to know when to dismiss my words for what my heart has to say.
It is not that I am being deliberately dishonest. My mind says I am fine but as Dr. Gold keeps reminding me, the pulse of my body–my heart—reveals the truth, no matter what that may feel like.
This time Dr. Gold showed me how to feel the anger in my pulse. I was stunned at feeling this bubble, this thickened middle of a single beat. I remember my mind flashing the word “sadness” but I focused only on the beat of my heart.
Currently, my life is one of movement, so much stirring and shifting physically and emotionally. It is exciting, this palpable energy I am discovering through traditional Chinese medicine, this literal listening to the beat of my heart.
I feel as if I am sitting with a trusted friend for I am. It is a friend that allows my mind to reflect on but not to linger in what has passed. It is a lifeline for revisiting anger.
This broadening of the beat of my heart takes me first to the movie, Selma, and then to 1965 as I remember it. That August I would change labels—no longer just a child but now a teenager as well.
The Beatles had already arrived. The Civil Rights Act had passed. Lyndon Johnson had been elected president by the largest landslide in history. Martin Luther King recently received the Nobel Peace prize.
But what the movie Selma awakened in me was the feeling of that time. Even in the sparsely populated, high-plains desert of Wyoming, it was obvious momentous change was on the horizon.
For all Americans this energy would explode into their living rooms mostly on black and white television screens for it was an anger of black and white.
The heartbeat of the Civil Rights movement was palpable after just one moment of watching televised events in Selma and the subsequent protests. It was energy, it was hope, and ultimately, it became a movement for all faiths and for all races as the five-day March on Montgomery would show the world.
There was a belief that we would overcome. And the fact that President Johnson used those very words in his televised speech on the Voting Rights Act shocked many and angered some.
Fifty years later, we still fall short but ”tolerance, like any aspect of peace, is forever a work in progress, never completed, and if we’re as intelligent as we like to think we are, never abandoned” (Octavia Butler September 1, 2000 NPR interview with Scott Simon).
We may be struggling “to be the change we seek”—maybe that is the never-ending human struggle–sometimes a great cause and other times, a true movement.
Our world is now even smaller as we meet one another screen to screen on a daily basis—connected is the word bandied about—we are faced with all we are and are not. We are a work in progress, ever in motion.
For a moment, we can reflect on but not bring forward the hope of another time. We move along with the real pulse of life all around us, a collective heartbeat. And if we are angry, that is our pulse. It is our truth.
What if we all learn to listen to the heartbeat of our anger? It is more calming, this expanding of a heartbeat, than you may think for it is the truth of what one feels. In knowing the truth we find our way to compassion and possibly tolerance, once again taking up the banner of believing we will overcome.
What kind of world might be possible if we turn to our hearts for the truth, for the real pulse of our lives? Are we intelligent enough to try?
Note: Tom Michael, who walked the miles from Selma to Montgomery, writes a thoughtful and powerful essay on that time. You will find it here.