I went to bed last night with the news that this icon was in critical condition and not expected to be in the physical much longer. I awoke this morning to the news that his separation from his physical form was complete. Can’t honestly say I was “heartbroken” or “shocked”, not because I felt/feel no connection to Muhammad Ali – his has been a face my mind recalls when it thinks of positive, strong African (black) manhood – but because I’m accepting, I think, this reality of departing souls that 2016 seems hell bent on producing.
The year started with Natalie Cole’s transition, then Dr. Cress-Welsing’s, then several others, celebrities and family members, friends of friends and family of friends. One sister friend I know has had to say goodbye to the physical form of SIX family members in the first five months of the year alone! In my family, we’ve just returned, in the last two weeks, from our grandfather’s funeral.
So you see death seems to be the dominant theme for 2016 and I can’t help but wonder what it all means (if it means anything). Do those departing know something the rest of us don’t? Or is it just their time to transition? Whatever it is, this energy of separating, departing, transitioning has settled on my mind making it difficult for me to receive news of death with the shock and dismay that would typically come.
Muhammad Ali stands out in my mind as an example of our innate greatness allowed to flow freely. I see him as outspoken, extroverted, dedicated, a man of integrity, good character, and just a beautiful soul. His connection to el hajj Malik el Shabazz (Malcolm X) made me cherish him all the more.
I think of what it must have been like growing up in the 60s and having the image of Ali to look up to at a time when oppression of African people was much more overt, lynchings were happening all the time without the bother of being hidden, when segregation was the rule, if not the law, and African people everywhere were routinely called “boy” and “girl” no matter their age or status. What must the sight of a Muhammad Ali , champion boxer, “The Greatest”, have done to the psyche of a race of people existing across continents and languages! What must the sight of an Ali have done to the psyche of those determined to maintain their status quo, their terrorism-based dominance justified with lies of the inferiority of one and the natural, divine even, superiority of the other! I can only imagine, not being alive yet at that time but my connection through blood and psychic energy allows me to feel it in a very real way too.
And so I understand the tears some confess they shed at hearing the news. I feel the sense of loss those focused on the physical share. His moving on is, for them, the ending of a greatness we could point to with pride and boast that we had.
But there is something else too… something that those with a broader focus can grasp. That this man, The Greatest, has shed his physical body and is now free from its limitations isn’t lost on them. That his powerful spirit, “a baaaaad man!”, the champ, the one who fought with fist and words, who defied the system designed to oppress him and stood, as a man, saying ‘NO! Do what you want but I won’t bow or cower or grovel or bed or stop calling you what you are’, that this spirit is now unfettered and free to truly be the greatest fighter for his people isn’t lost on some and, thankfully, not lost on me.
So with those ones I can’t help but smile gratitude as my energy focuses on the physical life of one so inspiringly great nor can I control my excitement as I direct my energy to this after-physical-life time of his and extol him to rise! Rise in power to fight continuously and always for your people against the enemies of truth, justice, righteousness, order, harmony, reciprocity, divine balance (Ma’at)! Rise in power and help us to be bold and courageous and relentless and consistent and strong and powerful! As you are!