I accidentally meditated at the Women’s Symposium in St Petersburg, Florida last week. It was a bright and warm morning, and I was supposed to be indoors, listening to a speaker in a general session. Instead I took my badge off, slipped it in my brief case, and began to walk. It was my last day out of three days of non-stop sitting, studying, learning, and grinning like a damn fool.
Once outside I basked in the warmth. The Vinoy is situated right by a street called Beach Drive, and it’s a beautiful sight. Across from this hotel (more like, regal piece of architecture) is a dock, complete with an assortment of yachts, speed boats, and fishing boats. The water was reflecting the sunlight and these magnificent boats perfectly. I began to walk, with a destination sort of in mind, sort of not.
After a moment I decided I was in the pursuit of coffee, preferably iced.
I walked by a group of older women doing Tai Chi under the Granada Terrace in Vinoy Park. Their movements were completely in unison, they faced the water and the light. They looked at peace; I envied them and kept staring, entranced. Maybe it was their quiet ease in motion, their unaffected nature of being watched, but I felt moved.
I was unsettled by the Symposium. Hundreds of great women “in finance” were in attendance, and I was tired of feeling intimidated, small, and outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to be enveloped in something like Tai Chi. Across the street there was a man fishing, surrounded by pelicans. I’d even take his life over; or maybe one of the pelicans.
I found the perfect coffee shop, without the perfect service. I began to walk back toward the hotel with my iced drink in hand. I didn’t have a plan to go back necessarily; that was the last place I wanted to be. But I walked back, passing large and incredible Banyan trees. I had been here before, and stood nestled in the trunk of one of those trees. My boyfriend took my picture, and I had been resolutely happy that day.
I felt so different.
I trailed behind an older woman with a walker and a young girl who appeared to be her care taker. They were talking about runners. The care taker was doing all of the talking. We all happened to find our way to opposing benches. I listened to them talk (“I think that’s bird poop on that bench …”), the sound of acorns dropping into puddles, the water lapping, the fisherman talking to the Pelicans, and the breeze running through branches.
I was still unbearably sad. But so achingly present with that sadness, and the world around me. Strangely, I loved every second.