I’ve never known what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Taking an aptitude test in high school, I was hopeful that it would finally give an answer as to what I’d be doing in the world. I was ready for my true mission to be revealed, eager and willing.
In the metal desk of that stuffy Geography classroom disappointment settled on the test results before me. A handful of vocational options were listed, one bewildering standout being “Zookeeper.” I had no leanings toward tending wild animals in cages. I was grateful to see “Writer” included in the suggestions, but that didn’t count. Everyone knew that writing wasn’t a real job.
When I was seven years old, I didn’t know the definition of aptitude. I wasn’t thinking in terms of money, or making a living. I was just living. So when I pulled my little chair up to the typewriter, engaged the CAPS lock, and started typing, I was doing it because I had a story and I was going to tap it out. There was no delete key then, all text moving forward and rolling down the page. The story’s title came first: “A Single Pearl.”
She was a miniature mermaid that had been captured in a jar by a greedy man who wanted to keep her for his own. She’d been trapped with others like herself, and together they made a plan on how to find their way back home to the ocean. Using their collective weight, they tipped the jar off the table and rolled themselves back to the sea. It was a dangerous and risky mission, but they knew they had to get out of that jar.
They made it to the ocean, but they’d been away from home for a while. Upon their return they found their place polluted, desolate and empty. All that remained was a single pearl in the sand. Our heroine and her friends forged on to find a new home. The colors of the sunset shone through the water, giving them hope as they made their way toward a new life.
It was over 35 years ago in that bedroom with the olive-green, shag carpet. The metallic sound of definitive letters clicked beneath my fingertips. There was a feeling of floating just a few inches above my chair. There was magic and inspiration. I was excited and on point. I had a story to tell.
I believe that mermaid story moment pointed toward my aptitude. But as I grew into the ‘real’ world, there was mostly talk of the job. It seemed cages and jars were all that were offered. Despite my aversion, I tried to fit myself inside. When that didn’t work, I bucked the norm by leaving college, traveling around the world, living in my van, and embracing counter-culture. I took all kinds of jobs while seeking to sustain myself. I shoveled poop, cleaned mansions, washed dishes and sold shoes. For over a decade I worked in radio. I was even paid to help manage other people’s lives. But what about my own life, my own truest purpose?
Through all of these working stints, I gained experience but my foundation was weak. I was still disempowered because my finances were meager. Even when my living situations were good, I didn’t feel fully successful. I knew there was something more inside of me that had yet to fully actualize.
I believe every one of us has a gift to offer that only they have to give. When we are in alignment with this genius, our power is immeasurable. Our contribution, critical. The rewards, extraordinary.
This past weekend I was in the company of 70 visionaries and entrepreneurs from all parts of the world, all ages, all backgrounds. We convened with a thread in common – we all know the power of superfoods – but there is more than organic nutrition that we value. We understand the gold in knowing there’s a livelihood beyond the fill-in-the-bubble test we may have been given in high school. Our ‘job’ in this world transcends the limiting list of a standard form.
This weekend I was in the presence of those that have tipped the jar. And we’re creating a new home, committed to making this place in which we live better.
I didn’t intellectually understand all of this at the age of seven at the typewriter. I was free to imagine things like mermaids made miniature. Maybe we all need to open up a little more to what is possible beyond the formulas we’re offered. Allow ourselves to let go to dream…or dream even a little bit bigger. This world is calling us. Read it in the space between the words of the latest headlines.
I’m ready to bring all of myself to this life. I’m still discovering exactly what that looks like, but for now, this morning, I’m at the keys, tapping out letters, sharing this story unfolding.
There’s a single pearl of wisdom within each of us, and it started with a grain of sand. It’s growing. This rare gem we each have to bestow upon the world.