The Elvis Presley Memorial ChapelThe Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel, is part of Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi. I visited with my friend K and a couple of other bikers we met at a scenic overlook on the Natchez Trace Parkway about an hour away.

The Chapel had the requisite stained glass windows, pews and a pulpit for wedding officiants, but we were there for the air conditioning, which provided us with an oasis from Mississippi’s unbearable afternoon heat and humidity. The King sang gospel music in the background while we travelers tried to marshall the strength to hit the road again at the summer solstice.

Reconsidering someone I had pigeonholed

I remember the day Elvis died because of the profound effect it had on my mother. We were on a family vacation and she sent us to eat dinner without her while she mourned in private. I didn’t get it. She remembered skinny, sexy Elvis and I remembered paunchy Elvis in the jumpsuit and cape who starred in campy movies. Until that summer day in his chapel, I’d never really listened to Elvis’ music because I let his personality get in my way. To be more candid, I let my tendency to judge on superficialities like personality and branding get in the way of appreciating his talent.

Hearing him sing those spiritual songs was a chance to reconsider someone I thought I’d known, but it felt more like an introduction to someone new.

I talked my realization about the need to start UNlearning in this post about Bluegrass music, which my teenaged self judged as not being cool enough for me. And here I go again.

Learning from a snake

We’re all in the process of evolution. We recognize this about our bodies–moving from embryos to parents– but our characters are changing throughout our lives, too.

Sometimes we’re prickly and irritated and I find that when I’m feeling that way it’s usually because a growth spurt is approaching, sort of like the snake whose skin is tight and uncomfortable when it’s time to shed. (By the way, this video of a snake shedding its skin is fascinating, and not at all creepy.)

Maybe we could all learn to give each other a bit of room when we’re feeling that itchy and irritated, and give each other the benefit of the doubt that a major spiritual, emotional or psychological growth spurt is imminent. The gentler we can be with ourselves, the gentler we can be with others, eh?

I’ll leave you with refrigerator-magnet wisdom from one of my favorite comediennes: “No one ever has it ‘all together.’ That’s like trying to eat ‘once and for all.” ~Marilyn Grey

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