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.)
I’m lying prone, grass is poking 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 the 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 our circle. We speculate on post-college life and who each of us will be when we “grow up.”
Before long we have identified two teachers, an accountant, a social worker, an advertising exec, and a P.T.A. mom.
The tone is light with the deep, sweet notes of women who know each other well, who see each others souls and can fish gems of truth from the depths. Each truth sparkles as a bit of soul-light shines on us all.
I wait expectantly… There is something magical about being seen.
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!).
Our soft gaze is on Kristin, and only I am left. The conversation moves on and I hold my breath.
And then we are 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 waits 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 is 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 bring to this world. This spark is similar to the spark that someone else carries in the way one leaf is similar to the next, and yet each is unique and necessary. This is our Original Medicine.
In modern “civilized” cultures, very few of us know our Original Medicine; but in our secret hearts, we know it’s there. We know that we have a special gift to give to the world and ourselves.
We know that living in alignment with this Original Medicine is tied to our health and happiness so we are constantly searching and seeking, looking for who we are.
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 Original 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.
We jump around on our unmade beds singing at the top of our lungs. We 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 closer I am to fine.
“I think of you every time I hear this song,” Susan tells me. She continues, quoting the song, “The best thing you’ve ever done for me, is to help me take my life less seriously. It’s only life after all… Thank you.”
* * *
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.
Is your life’s purpose, your Original Medicine, bigger then a job title (I bet it is!). Tell me about it in the comments below!
There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line….
Sing it with me: