Graduation is a few days away and classes are over for the year.
(Yup, this is a flashback. If Oprah ever asks if every word is true, I won’t be able to say for certain. Memories soften, get a little fuzzy, and are often sweeter in the re-telling.
Truth? Oprah scares me. I once saw her interview a memoirist and ask if every word was accurate. Accuracy and memory are, at best, fraternal twins.
But I digress…)
Lying prone on a hillside in the arboretum, the grass pokes through the cotton blanket, tickling my stomach. (This was before Lyme Disease became part of my consciousness, back when I laid on the ground with abandon, worrying only about an occasional ant.) The scent of barbecue, beer, and Johnson’s Baby Oil (yup, pre-SPF, too) overpowers the whispers of wild honeysuckle and pine from the woods below.
Conversation drifts round my circle of friends. We speculate on post-college life and who each of us will be when we “grow up.”
Before long we’ve identified two teachers, an accountant, a social worker, an advertising exec, and a P.T.A. mom. The tone is light with the sweet notes of women who know each other well, who see each other’s souls, and can fish gems of truth from the depths of self. As each truth emerges, sparkling, a bit of soul-light shines on us all.
I wait expectantly… there’s something magical about being seen (which is why we go to tarot reader and astrologers, right? We want someone else to acknowledge the depths we feel within ourselves). I wonder what my friends, my housemates this past year, will see in me. I wonder if they know my life’s purpose (’cause I sure don’t!).There's something magical about being seen. We want someone else to acknowledge the depths we feel within ourselves. Click To Tweet
Our soft gaze is on Kristin, and then only I will be left. The conversation moves on and I hold my breath…
….And then we’re talking about boyfriends and dinner plans.
I wait a few moments, looking from one friend to another, before asking in small voice, “What about me?”
The pause stretches out as each person stares at me, waiting for someone else to speak. Finally my roommate Susan nudges my shoulder. “We have no idea what you’re going to be,” she says with a quick grin, “but we can’t wait to find out.”
Fast forward to now.
There’s something in our human nature that desperately wants to be known.
In many tribal cultures it’s thought that each person, each soul born on this planet, has a very special spark they carry into this world. This spark is similar to the spark that someone else carries in the way one leaf is similar to the next, each is unique and necessary. This is our personal Medicine.
In modern “civilized” cultures, very few of us know our Medicine; but in our secret hearts, we feel that it’s there. We know that we have a special gift to give to the world and to ourselves. We know that living in alignment with this Medicine is tied to our health and happiness… so we’re constantly seeking: looking for who we are, searching for our life’s purpose. And because of the constructs of our culture, we think this information is going to come in the form of a job title.
But often our Medicine is a light that emanates from us touching those we know in a daily, yet profound, way.
Flash back to moving out day, Ann Arbor, Michigan:
Susan and I have a morning routine: after the alarm goes off and we yawn and stretch and grump, we put The Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine” in the CD player (remember CD players?). We jump around on our unmade beds singing at the top of our lungs. We’re equally off-key and equally exuberant.
This morning, this last morning, Susan hops off her bed and turns down the stereo after the Indigo Girls sing the last chorus of there’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line. And the less I seek my source for some definitive the closer I am to fiiiii-innnnne…
“I think of you every time I hear this song,” Susan says quietly. She continues, quoting the lyrics, “The best thing you’ve ever done for me, is to help me take my life less seriously. It’s only life after all…”
This is Medicine.
* * *
It took me another two decades to understand that on that beautiful day in the Ann Arbor Arboretum, my housemates did see me clearly. They did know what I was going to do with my life. It just wasn’t, and isn’t, something that had or has a clear job title.
Your Medicine is bigger than a job title. Feel into it: what’s the light you shine into the lives of those around you? How do you make your world a little better every day, just by being alive and being you?
P.S. Sing it with me:
There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line….