For my 40th birthday, I didn’t run a whole marathon as I’d hoped (only half) or shave my head (I really was considering it. How stupid would I feel now?) But I did memorize the US Presidents and see a shaman.
The shaman’s name was Jon. No H. The focus of the session was to help me “discover my destiny.” He placed rocks on my body and waved feathers. He said the purpose of this was to release trapped past lives. Or something like that. He said that in the process of doing this, it was revealed to him that I had been a Saxon warrior in a past life. And I was trapped into searching for my next battle. Without one, I felt without a purpose.
For homework after the session, I was supposed wander off into nature and make a circle from found objects of the earth. In the middle of the circle I was supposed to take another found object of the earth, hold it between my hands, concentrate on the moments in my life when I’ve felt good about my work. Then I was to blow into the found object in my hands twice, then place this object in the center of the circle. After three days, I was to scatter all the found objects back to the earth.
I did my homework. We were staying right on the edge of the ocean. I climbed down outside our room, to a kind of precarious place, and assembled my circle.
I took the stick in the center of my hands and concentrated on times I’d felt satisfied and happy with my work. I waited a long time to make sure I was doing it right.
Moments of dashing around an AIDS unit in darkened hallways flashed before my mind. But so did moments of sitting in a Starbucks before an exposed brick wall, working on a cartoon. I’d finished penciling the words and pictures and was about to start inking. That vision surprised and pleased me.
I blew both those images into the stick and placed it in the center of the circle.
When the third day came and I was supposed to scatter the circle, there was a storm coming off the ocean with strong winds. Going down to where I’d built my circle would have been really dangerous. Plus we had a flight to catch.
I figured I’d already screwed up the exercise by taking a picture of the circle, which I was sure you weren’t supposed to do, so I left the circle intact, hoping that maybe the storm would scatter the elements of the earth for me.
If not, I guess I’m doomed to keep searching for my next battle like my Saxon warrior ancestor. But I did learn that it’s important to keep drawing cartoons along the way.