a story i’ve not often told

30 May

I didn’t know who she was until she introduced herself, but  I knew that she knew who she was – she resided within herself in a powerful way, it was clear, enough to stop conversation in the whole space when she entered; she moved with a cloud of presence that extended many feet beyond her actual body.  She was tall and her voice was deep and layered (as you know); every word took on weight.

She ordered a shot of whiskey at the bar and joined us at our table, explaining that she was giving a speech on the campus and that her ritual was to have a single shot for her nerves before she gave a talk.

I felt quiet and humbled in her presence, and when she took the time to talk to me, I felt shame that I couldn’t remember all of the details of her memoir, which I had read in high school.  My friend was all over the knowledge that day,  knew just what to ask and say. Yet she didn’t care about what we knew.  She asked  us personal questions about who we were.  She created intimacy with immediacy, because moments pass and we can command them, it seemed to me that day.

She poured liquid fire down my throat;  she made me want to feel awake, to be a present human being.  I felt a big contrast from who I was at that time compared to my own potential for being.  She embodied that growth wasn’t about knowledge or accomplishment, but something else, something powerful and mysterious – yet open and loving, too.

How many people like this show up in our lives?  I’m beginning to think that the answer to this question is this:  as many as we need.  I must have needed a famous, intense, sparkly one, at that point. 🙂

She toasted us goodbye like old friends, as she walked out in her sequined floor-length gown.  We watched from the window as her driver ushered her inside a limo, our eyes unwilling to let go of  her enormous, smiling face.

20 Responses to “a story i’ve not often told”

  1. Alison and Don May 30, 2014 at 1:48 am #

    Oh my goodness what a powerful encounter. How blessed you are. From your written description I can feel her energy, her presence, and envy being that deep in the body, that deep in the moment. One day one day . . . . .
    I’ve been in Eckhart’s presence many times but it didn’t feel like what you describe. Perhaps because he wasn’t having a drink and being a regular person with us.

    • marga t. May 30, 2014 at 2:14 am #

      Hi there, Alison!
      What a gift this encounter was, a picture of contrast, for I’ve often thought that I would have preferred to meet her later on when I could have soaked the snippet of time up with more awareness, but I am sure she was one of the touchstones for helping point and inspire me at just the right time! As you say, one day one day… How beautiful becoming is! You and don are so shiny in your truth! xoxoxo! m

      • Alison and Don May 30, 2014 at 2:46 am #

        You’re pretty shiny yourself 🙂

  2. ptero9 May 30, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    Hi Marga,

    I can relate to the part where you couldn’t recall any details. When I met james Hillman, I was pretty much stunned into silence. Silly, but there you go.

    What a great experience though to meet up like that and feel her presence. My wish is to be present enough to feel anyone’s presence in that deep way. Tall order I think. Something to practice though.


    • marga t. May 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Hey Debra,
      Maybe that stunned silence is perfect, sometimes, though that doesn’t feel so at the time. Thank you for sharing that detail with me, for I would imagine the opposite to be true! This encounter with MA for me was 25 years ago, I just realized. From that lens, the moments, days and years of practice have flown by ~ Like you, I too wish to be present with others; everyday we get to try again – and the deepening offers so much in return! xo! m

  3. ~meredith May 30, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    When i encountered her for the first time i started crying. she was the most magnificent woman… an inspiration to live fully, with all your heart, soul, and mind. she embodied all.

    • marga t. May 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      ~ Meredith ~
      She did embody some powerful juju! I am curious about your experiences!
      I started thinking about her path when someone sent a link that was fairly critical of her, which got me to thinking. We cannot know the inner experience (for sure) of another, but I think we can sense the truth of another shining out from within in their presence, often. I can see how she was able to stay present in her life experiences with courage and strength along the way, and the blossoming that resulted seems to me to be what you and I experienced. She flowered into herself in this incarnation – but I don’t necessarily know what that means overall. I see promise for us all with trusting that the journey is perfect for each of us to help us grow in the ways we need, seen through her example. She was very much still a real, earthy person – whiskey shot and all 🙂 I was a cheeky, ignorant 22 year old, unready for the encounter, except to let it crack me open a bit more!
      Want to meet for a cup of tea and you can tell me of your encounter?
      xo! m

      • ~meredith May 31, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

        How could I possibly turn down an invitation to tea with you, lovely one? How wonderful! (My experience, however, pales to near transparency next to your tale, though. I did not share a whiskey or anything remotely close to such a rich encounter… but I’m delighted knowing you did.)

        I know she had many critics… but who doesn’t? She was very real,

      • ~meredith May 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

        Absolutely, though my experience pales to near transparency in comparison. Still, every experience we have contains riches we often don’t recognize… I thought she was exquisite, majestic, and yes…disinterested in people’s ability to discuss her work.

        I sometimes wonder about our fascination with celebrity. It’s very hard to encounter strangers who recognize you from a show (or some any form of public appearance, I guess) while in the middle of grocery store thought. People see a character, then feel betrayed when you don’t live up to their idealized notions. It’s really a shame, too, because everyone reflects the divine. Oh… blah, blah, blah… What do I know?

  4. ~meredith May 30, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    p.s. great clip… and thank you! xx ~Meredith

    • marga t. May 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      You are so in-line with my flow here, meredith! I paused for a long time before deciding whether to hit publish or not, for I feel a bad taste in my mouth for jumping on coattails of fame and death with a “I once met…” story. I think that is why i titled it with a disclaimer. I’m still not sure what I am doing here; there is always a reason in my thinking mind for not hitting publish!!! I didn’t talk about this experience, except a few rare times, and I’ve always hated the way I couldn’t convey what I wanted. I have had many brushes with “fame” in this life, and I appreciate the point of view you offer from looking out from the seat of the famous one. I think perhaps this experience from within fame can solidify the shell or break the shell of ego through the strangeness of having others view you so constantly through their own projections. To use this experience just like all the other experiences as a way to find authenticity and perhaps point that way for others seems a good use of one’s energy and time, to me. But what do I know? 🙂 blah blah blah right back! I enjoyed our tea time! The cookies were delicious.

  5. Michael May 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    What an encounter, and a transporting description! I was struck, in thinking about this, about this presence… about embodying “something powerful and mysterious”, that were I to sit down to dinner with the devil himself tonight, he might radiate just such a presence. Perhaps drop the loving part, but the authenticity part I mean. I am thinking somehow it is the authenticity that extends the field of being throughout space. That part Meredith mentioned, about not being caught up in what others think of your work. Of knowing who one is. I was struck by the notion that we all have this inside of us, and authenticity must be related to being comfortable with and knowing who we are. Thanks for such a poignant and personal reminder…


    • marga t. May 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

      The devil himself, oh, yes, I think you are right, M! I’m sure we are attracted to the authentic embodiment of “evil” and that this authenticity is one powerful tool for calling the moths to the flame in the dance of duality. What a fascinating lens you look through – I love the way it spins me round. I will not link that song, don’t worry. When I sink into those moments of comfort and authenticity – that also let me see how I’m plugged into something much bigger than me that gives me in the moment knowings of what to say and how to flow – I imagine it can go on forever and am so heartbroken when the piano goes out of key or I imagine I’ve lost my house keys again. Hope you and Hafiz are having a nice weekend! 🙂 m

      • Michael June 1, 2014 at 1:51 am #

        We are still working on that forever piece, aren’t we… I find living to be so strange some days. Moments begin and end, some staying open for a lifetime and some for just an instant. They overlay and combine like waves. Sometimes they all hit just right and we’re in a moment where EVERYTHING is alive. Sometimes we’re alone, doing dishes, maybe still plugged in, maybe not. Either way, the moments recombine. We’re discovering how to do that plugged in thing while fixing breakfast, while standing alone in the elevator, while stuck in traffic, while achieving a lifelong dream. Being plugged in still skips in and out. I think some of it is still our approach to living. In the extreme: what is a professional athlete supposed to do 16 hours after winning the world title and closing a chapter of their life? We are called to create and express, and called to rest, called to dream, and called to just breath. Somehow this encounter with Ms. Angelou speaks to that I think. Hafiz came for a visit today. Hope you are having a nice weekend, too.


  6. Kelly Kuhn June 2, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    During the last 18 months of my mom’s life, as she dealt with cancer, she and I grew a love that may have compared to that between Maya and her mom. I came to believe very late in that period that she stayed much longer than expected (she, too, was given only weeks to live) because she needed to serve me. To push me to a certain life decision point that I was reluctant to approach on my own. Finally, I reached the point, made the decision I had to make, and declared it to the person I needed to be honest with. Less than 12 hours after I told her about it, she fell, which hurled her toward death. Yet she lingered for a week. The Hospice worker told me that my siblings and I needed to release her, to tell her she could go. I was the last to do so, fiercely thanking her for serving and blessing and loving me, and telling her that we could now both be free. She passed within the hour. Love does liberate.

    I have been unable to even think of Maya’s passing. I’ve kept it out of my sight and away from my heart. Thank you for the little push.

    • marga t. June 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Everything has been happening at once these past few days, Kelly. I’ve been wanted to get back to you with a big squeeze for such a beautiful sharing. I admit to being fascinated and comforted by such transition stories and the grace of such a loving daughter’s release. Much love to you, where ever life finds you today. xo! m

  7. Andrea June 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    This is such a powerful interaction, Thank you for sharing! It does seem the most powerful and centered humans care not for expounding upon their own ideas, accomplishments and opinions, but instead take great interest in those around them. Catching up on your blog is so fun and empowering for me this morning! I am loving every minute, every word, every emotion.

    • marga t. June 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      What is unfolding in your corner? Are you and the merry crew tromping about in the summer sun?

  8. margaretmikkelborg August 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    this was very beautiful – thank you!

    • marga t. August 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      Thank you, Margaret. A beautiful encounter for me, to be sure!

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