This week's New Times cover story is a profile of enigmatic former Miami Dolphins superstar running back Ricky Williams, who retired from football for the second time at the end of last season. These days, he administers spiritual sessions in South Florida and around the world. I attended one of them.
When I attended one of Ricky Williams's sessions in Access Consciousness -- a 20-year-old healing program from California -- at a studio in Davie last month, I told him I would just stand to the side and watch.
"Nope," he shot back. "Get on a table."
I laid down face-up. Two sets of fingers -- refreshingly cold -- were gently placed on my temples. They belonged to Suzie Bowman, Ricky's right-hand woman. Later, she told me that she's an American Airlines flight attendant who met him years ago while working Dolphins team charters. Since she picked up Access Consciousness, the stress of daily life has completely dissolved. She floats blithely through terminals while her colleagues are racked with worry about their employer's bankruptcy.
The voice from a profane motivational CD in a boombox ranted at me: "Time to play, my unhappy friends.... You've been pretending it your entire life, that you're really as serious and unhappy as everybody else, but you're not... Beautiful people, we're here to change the fucking world!"
Suzie gingerly wrapped her fingers around my wrists.
I also felt an electric tingle on the pressure points of my ankles. I craned my eyeballs south to see only the top of a big, bald cranium, a smooth head as immovable as a rock.
One of the modern era's most hyped and scrutinized athletes, a man who has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated three times, was clutching my socks.
I lost my grasp of time and wondered if I was falling asleep. The fingers on my forehead felt pleasantly heavy. A woman's voice said, "Is he OK?" And then there was Ricky's laugh.
I forced my eyes open to find that all the lights were on. There had been a couple dozen people in the room before, but when I awoke, I was the only one still lying down. The place was quiet.
Ricky and I moved to some plastic folding chairs in a back room and sipped water. He told me the sort of spiritual tune-up session I just experienced was called getting my "bars run." "You're not going to really get it until you leave here and you start to see things are different," Ricky said. "People are going to be approaching you differently. People are going to be calling you out of the blue. Things are just going to be happening to you. Food will taste different. Music will sound different."
I told Ricky I felt woozy. His response: That's how he lives his life. "I don't perceive it as being woozy," he added. "I perceive it as being expanded... As you start to get used to it, you start to have more fun with it. You start to get secret powers, actually."
An Esquire writer once marveled at Ricky's nearly magical ability to pull aces in a poker game. So after my Access Consciousness session, I drove ten minutes to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where I played a game of blackjack that felt spiritually guided.
I doubled on soft 18. I split tens. The other gamblers mumbled in dissent.
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The rash moves all paid off. Everything came up Ricky. I left the casino after seven minutes, having made exactly $100.
When I later told Ricky about the postsession good fortune, he said, "That's so cool! How could you even create that to be a coincidence?"