He goes by the nickname Dream Caster and I am lucky enough to be graced by his towering and gentle presence three times a week, when he comes to my yoga classes at Seattle Athletic Club. He always arrives early, rolls out his impressive “runway” mat, which is long enough to accommodate his 6’7″ height. Once his mat is rolled out, he proceeds to set up his yoga oasis with two bolsters, two Gripitz (props used to protect wrists when doing yoga), four blocks, two straps, an eye pillow filled with beads, and a few blankets. Intrigued by and respectful of this giant of a gentleman, I asked if I could interview him and write about him in my blog. He happily agreed.
His name is Vester Marshall.
Vester lives his spirituality.
“I’ve been a student all my life. School, education, and society try to put you into a box. Life is much greater than what we learn in school. You’ve got to go out on your own and explore! Surround yourself with mentors, people who offer opinions you can respect! Be a seeker! Be a seeker and have enough trust to go to a counselor, a therapist, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist for help when you need it. Being a seeker has taken me out of the box. It’s what takes you outside of being black or white.”
Vester Marshal was a former Seattle Sonics player during the 1973-74 season. He told me once that as a forward he was known for his ability to jump high and now, in his late 60s, his knees are fairly worn out. That doesn’t stop him from walking. In fact, he hasn’t owned a car in over 25 years. He lives in the heart of Belltown in downtown Seattle and walks everywhere. He has been sober and clean for well over 25 years. He is the kind of guy you can’t categorize in any way. He is a father, a street minister, an herbalist, a certified yoga instructor, a visual artist, a fisherman. As a teen, he was a political activist and marched in support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. He was active in registering blacks to vote in the 60s. Later he was a grunge band manager in Seattle! He has been active in the anti-nuclear movement. He worked at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Diversity is the name of Vester’s game!
He was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He went to the University of Oklahoma on a scholarship and played basketball for the university. “Basketball was a path which allowed me to follow the path to greater knowledge and wisdom.” Playing for the Sonics led him to great connections, such as meeting governors, senators, and legislators. He used to go to Olympia to take state politicians fishing!
Vester is a visual artist. “I’m capable of doing what I want to do. When we do art, we create. We produce. We work our way through different problems and become connected.”
What are his words of wisdom?
“You have to know yourself. You have to be real!”
How do you make a difference in this world?
“By just being me, by making good choices, by being responsible for myself. Be an example. You see what I’m saying? You’ve got to be an example for the world to witness.”
How has yoga changed you, Vester?
“I’d be dead now if I hadn’t taken an inventory of my lifestyle. Drugs and other hippy addictions were killing me. I looked around. My friends were dying all around me. All the people in the rock ‘n roll scene around me in Seattle were dying. I felt like there was a strong invitation for me to get clean. I made a decision to clean my life. I went through a detox program with medical help. Shortly after that, I found yoga. Yoga taught me how to be mindful, how to be kind. Yoga IS all about kindness and friendship. Yoga is unconditional love. Yoga has taught me to be a part of a community where everyone is working on becoming their better selves.”
What are your keys for good living?
“I always have enough. I live within God’s means. Because of this, I’m in a beautiful place and I live a beautiful lifestyle. I walk a path where life becomes divine. I never worry. Yeah, I’ve got issues with my knees, but I seek advice from the right people, the right doctors. I take action and I never worry.”