The greatest talent a person can have, it seems to me, is the capacity to have faith in the goodness of life.  It is a gift I have often been lacking in my life, but which I’m now endeavouring to cultivate.

Let me explain, albeit in a somewhat circuitous manner.

In retrospect, I feel that I’ve spent the first half of my life in a trio of inter-connected studies:  to unravel the meaning of life; to fully comprehend humanity in its dichotomous tendency toward  good and evil; but most of all, to fully know and understand myself.  In Jung’s words, I have striven to own my own shadow, and my work in theatre has been an important tool in this exploration.

It only feels right and appropriate, therefore, after the introspection of my first half century, that the second portion of my allotted time on this planet gather together any understanding I’ve gained and employ it in the service of things outside of myself, whether that be mother Gaia, my fellow human beings, or the animals who share this planet with us.

And there have been certain signposts directing me onto this path.

This past New Year’s Eve, a dear friend and I decided to exchange the usual over-consumption of food and spirits for a meditation workshop, opting to enter 2012 with a clear head, a clean body and peaceful thoughts.  At this event, for the first time in my life, I took part in an activity which might be described as ‘psychic’:  a session conducted by a young woman who offers what she calls Soul Intuitive Readings.  I should tell you in advance that I am highly skeptical of this sort of thing:  I believe it’s possible that rare individuals may possess perceptions the rest of humanity does not, but I also acknowledge that there are many con men and women who seek to prey on the gullible.  This young woman , it seemed to me, fell into the former category, and, as she fixed her attention onto a point in space, I was astounded to hear her describe aspects of my life in a way which resonated fully with me.

Then, she let the spiritual bomb drop.

The next part of your life, she said, will be predominantly as a healer.

Now, this statement can be interpreted in a number of ways.  I often sense that my work as an acting teacher has a healing quality to it, both for myself and for my students.  In terms of my own life, I feel I become the best possible version of myself when I teach, since in order to do it well, you must be fully committed, and as kind, determined and ego-less as is humanly possible.  And while it is never the direction or intention of the classes, I have seen how the work of freeing oneself as an actor; of scaling the walls of fear associated with a character’s particular journey; of pushing through and past emotional blocks encountered within the work; has a ripple effect into one’s own life as well.

The characterization of healer also sounded echoes from my past.  During a collective voice class at Equity Showcase some twenty years ago, I became friends with a young woman from Northern Ontario who belonged to the Objibwe tribe.  We were taking part in an exercise in which the fifteen or so students walked about the room, encountering one another with a gaze which greeted in a free neutrality, seeking neither to give or receive.  I found that these exercises tended to become a bit stale and precious after a while, so, at this point, when I encountered my friend, I would offer the slightest of interactions:  a quirked eyebrow; a slight widening of the eyes; resulting in her spontaneously emitting a smile or a soft giggle.  At the end of one such exercise, she grabbed me by the arm, then waggling a light-hearted finger in my face, she said, “YOU are so Bear Clan!”

“Bear Clan, ” I asked, “what’s that?”

Letting her head fall on one shoulder, she assessed me with a warm, accepting gaze.  After a slight pause, she replied:  “It’s a very healing clan.”

Being a healer doesn’t imply power or uniqueness, since I believe we all have the capacity and the opportunity to heal, or to destroy, every day of our lives.  Sometimes it might mean as little as a warm smile to a stranger on the street who looks as if the world is grinding them down.  I believe it means simply to be of service.

At this point, I’m not yet sure what direction my future vocation as healer might take.  I certainly have strong views on the dangers of agri-business and pharma-business; I’m passionate about the need for the humane treatment of all living things (raccoons and rats being a major exception); I’m eager to live a simpler, more self-sustaining lifestyle, particularly if this helps counteract the injuries to which we submit this beautiful planet every day.

I’ve decided to wait with as much patience as I can muster, believing that a path will reveal itself to me, particularly if I keep working away  at things the best I can.  I’ve come to understand that service to others, while it may seem selfless, has a wonderfully selfish aspect as well:  it makes you feel so good, so connected to life and to the rest of humanity.

So now, I will simply have faith in the goodness of life, and remember the words of Julian of Norwich, who sagely said that “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”

I am sitting in my living room, and with these words, I am speaking to you, who may be many miles distant from me.  The rain is falling heavily in the little orchard outside my window, which hasn’t deterred the birds from continuing in their joyful serenade.

I am having faith in the goodness of life, and I am happy.

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