Anybody who hasn’t seen the movie “PCU” simply hasn’t lived. If you came of age before 1992, or after 2000, you probably won’t appreciate it as much as those who gained greater consciousness in the ’90s, but it’s still worth it.
For those of you who secretly (or overtly) love this cult classic, I was, for all practical purposes, Droz. Yeah, the 30-something with sideburns who crammed 4 years into 7. Except that I’m going on 13. And I don’t have sideburns.
No, I’m not an underachiever–at least, not anymore; I’m just a late bloomer who spent most of my early years dazed and confused. No, I don’t even have any good memories of brownies with a US RDA of vitamins T, H, and C; I simply didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, even after I grew up.
It all started when I was 12 or so. I must’ve had a gut feeling about the impending struggle facing me later, because I started to panic: just exactly what did I want to do with the rest of my life? I hadn’t a clue. Everything that I was interested in usually required me to be in the right place at the right time. In other words, the Gods had to smile down upon me and I wasn’t sure they even knew I existed.
The first occupation I ever seriously considered was to be a composer of original musical soundtracks for movies, a la Alan Silvestri and James Horner. With original music pouring out of me faster than I could ever record it or write it down, I thought I was unstoppable. Until it dried up. Yeah, no matter how prolific you are or how good the material, it can suddenly turn off just like that. I did nothing differently; nothing changed. Not my stress level, my practice schedule, my school demands–nothing. I play and compose music to this day, and occasionally I write it down. But I did learn that I could never rely on the creative muse as a practical steady stream of income, because sometimes even muses take catnaps.
The next line of work I gave serious thought to was to work for the FBI in their Behavioral Science Department. Like the rest of the industrialized world circa 1992, I had seen “Silence of the Lambs” and I wanted to be Jodi Foster’s character, Clarice Starling. Without the sophistically-masked catcalls from a supervisor 3o years my senior, however. But somehow I instinctually knew that the job would be far more draining and on far deeper levels than I would ever be able to withstand, so I ditched the thought after a year or two.
After that, I considered all kinds of things. An artist–acrylic painting, specifically. A creative writer–short stories and adolescent novels and the like. A psychologist, whether dealing in general family counseling, or the deep abyss of the abnormal. An actress, which is what I put on my college application as my intended major at the time.
Acting would’ve been fun. But a major run-in with a self-serving hotheaded professor (who also happened to be my assigned adviser) who was apparently having a bad day ended all that. Besides, what could a person do with a theater degree anyway? Why bother getting a degree when all you really have to do is audition for a part? Big breaks don’t necessarily go to those with the most prestigious pedigrees. With circumductive slithering, I switched both majors and advisers late one afternoon after Mr. Hyde had left for the day. I had been thinking about switching to a Business major anyway, and this seemed as good a time as any other.
I stuck with Business for a while. It’s an intelligent strategy, really. I mean, there aren’t exactly a lot of jobs (especially a lot of attractive ones) outside of a business environment. I figured that since to sustain yourself inevitably involves conducting business of some kind, a degree in the subject just might come in handy. Accounting, Marketing, Economics–all are pretty info-packed when it comes to surviving and thriving in the corporate (or even non-corporate) world. At the time of my decision to switch, my goals were pretty simply. I was morphing into one of Those People, who just wanted to work a M-F, 8-5 job, come home, enjoy my mediocre pursuits like cable TV and a phone package that included unlimited long distance. I wanted enough money in my bank account to enjoy a recent-model Toyota, a daily Chai Latte at Starbucks, and a monthly splurge on cotton cardigans from The GAP.
But somewhere along the line, Business got boring. When it did, I considered Business-related subsets, such as Computer Science, IT, and Web Page Design, but in the end, something wasn’t quite right about any of them. Mediocrity suddenly didn’t seem so appealing. I no longer wanted to fade into the Khaki-wearing landscape making their way through the Star Wars-esque clone army to my mass-manufactured cubicle. The concepts of passion and meaning entered into my thought process and my list of values–what I wanted out of life.
So I did a complete 180 and in an altruistic utopian dream, I strove to become a teacher. I was still intensely interested in Economics; in fact, it wasn’t just an area of interest or a stock-investing strategy–it was a distinct lifestyle, an entirely separate way of looking at the world. Although I was still in systematic left-brain territory, I couldn’t help but to succumb to right-brain passion about it. And most people who are interested in Economics also inevitably end up admitting to themselves that they’re also fascinated by History, because the two subjects are at least partially intertwined such that the study of one leads to the study of the other. It made perfect sense, then, that my life’s work was to teach Economics and History, hopefully imparting my same passion to a group of impressionable students who were also conveniently a captive audience.
That didn’t last long. Talking to a couple of teachers who loved the kids but couldn’t stand their overbearing, micromanaging administrations cured me of ever wanting to work in any public school. And private schools paid even less, with no guarantee of any less micromanagement and headache.
So, back to limbo status. I decided to plunge forward, signing up for another batch of classes the next trimester, hanging by a thread of faith that something would eventually reveal itself. Upon hearing of an actual Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Studies (i.e. 4 Years of General Eds for the Undecided and Commitment-Phobic), I thought that was as good a degree plan as any, at least until an epiphany emerged from deep within the recesses of my intuition.
Eventually it did–quite by “accident”. I’ll save my own personal physical epiphany and metamorphosis into a higher state of health for another post, but suffice it to say that once I discovered what I could do for myself and exactly how effective it was, I wanted to share. I became interested in that which I never thought I’d give the time of day: physical health. Nutrition. Herbs. Holistic and natural healing. Wow.
My first thought was, “you mean to tell me I don’t need medication to live?”
And my second thought was, “now it’s time to tell the world”.
I began to see the world as a captive population in a dysfunctional institution designed to keep people sick and never really get them better. I began to see myself as their messiah of sorts (which is not meant to be nearly as grandiose or narcissistic as it probably sounds), bound and determined to set them free from the clutches of conventional medicine and Let My People Go, showing them that there’s another way–one that at least for most conditions, is usually cheaper, sometimes faster, and almost always more effective.
I still remember the first person I ever gave health advice to. My Economics professor mentioned in passing that she was coming down with a cold and felt miserable. Armed with my new-found knowledge of basic herbs and supplements, I approached her after class and told her I thought I could help.
She was very receptive, and when I offered to bring her a bag of a specific type of herbal tea, she enthusiastically agreed.
The next day, she actually approached me, thanking me, and said very emphatically that what I suggested had helped her so much, that she felt so much better, and that she would not otherwise have been able to hold class today.
Wow. Warm fuzzies. That hit the spot. No payment, just the recognition, and most of all, the knowledge that I may have actually helped someone. That filled the void that had been the case with all the other professions I had considered before. There had always been something missing, and that was it–the satisfaction of simply serving others.
Although I’ve stumbled upon that which allows me the best of all worlds: adaptability, serving others, independence and freedom, mental and intellectual stimulation, and financial potential, we still continue to tweak those plans, fine-tuning them with ever greater detail as we pave our path and make our mark on the world. Specifics change and viewpoints oscillate, but in the end it boils down to one goal: treating patients. With any luck, someday I might just be able to afford that Game Boy – over a daily Chai Latte. 🙂