Published on May 31st, 2017 | by Paul Chen, Publisher0
Two Very Different Awakenings
In my first letter, two months ago, I talked about awakenings in general and the four types that our magazine concerns itself with: heart, mind, body and soul.
This month we are pleased to present two stories of personal awakenings. I’d like to say we planned it that way, but that’s not the case. On the other hand, I don’t believe in coincidences.
What’s wonderful about this pair of histories is that they are dramatically different. Most of us have heard about the “rude awakening” in which life slams us against a wall with sudden suffering and it is up to us to respond in a positive way that reclaims our lives. That is the story of Tammy Billups, which starts on page 26.
In one short year Tammy lost four loved ones, was ambushed by the sudden recall of hideous childhood trauma and, on top of it all, fought a host of debilitating physical ailments. What she discovered changed the course of her life profoundly and irrevocably.
Tara Ochs’ awakening, on page 24, could not be more different. Her story starts with triumph, as an actress who spent eight years in Hollywood trying to make it, only to return to Atlanta and land her first role in a major motion picture. But her dream mutated into an extended bout of feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing.
Cast as the civil rights martyr Viola Liuzzo in the movie Selma, Tara immediately comprehends America’s racist history in a way she never stopped to consider, and she contracts a severe case of white guilt. Once awakened, Tara refuses to blithely return to life as she once knew it, refuses to bury her new understanding, and summons the courage to explore the question: Am I a racist?
Tammy is hardly the only person struck down by loss and flooded by repressed memories. And Tara is hardly the only white person to combat severe discomfort in trying to puzzle out how she can support the disenfranchised with something “other than a T-shirt and a tweet.”
What compels us to share these stories is the sure knowledge that there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone, that there are others who face similar challenges. In discovering that others have overcome, we become inspired and emboldened.
So we hope, from time to time, to share more personal stories of awakenings to inspire and encourage. If you have a story to tell, or know of another person’s exceptional experience, please let us know. My email address is Publisher@naAtlanta.com.