When I was in college, I had the best job: I worked in a music store. Dan’s Compact Music, on 7th Street in Grand Haven to be exact. It was the 90s, before iTunes and downloads. We didn’t sell vinyl, only sold CDs (and LaserDiscs if you can remember those), and never cassettes. My computer operator number was 8 and as far as I can recall, there wasn’t ever a day that I didn’t want to go to work. It was the quintessential record shop job and I loved it.
Everyday I was able to surround myself with an endless amount of music to listen and consider and ponder. And everyday I met people who had similar and different interests, approaches to and tastes in music. It was never boring.
One of my most favorite activities (next to hanging promo materials from the record labels on the walls) was calling special orders. With every phone call I got to deliver the message that ~their~ cd had arrived. I felt like a magical special order fairy, as though I was holding the secret key to their life’s delight that day.
To me, music is as magical and medicinal as work with the plants. There’s something about music — it’s ability to resonate through your entire body, stirring the soul and tingling your spirit out through your fingertips. And without getting all new age and start talking about resonance and chakras, music is healing. It’s medicine.
That musical match for a person is extremely intimate, and working with plants and people — trying to find that match — is pretty much the same thing.
For me, the work with plants, herbalism and being an herbalist is similar to working in a music store– it’s about learning and appreciating all sorts of types of plants; and like music, recognizing what I like and why, and that some will resonate more than others. I have my own personal “Top 10 for a Desert Island” list that most likely will differ (a bit, though there’s always those classic hits) from my colleagues, which is nice because we all have proclivities and specialties. While one might be a specialist of classical music, another may like blues. I definitely have my faves that will be lifetime favorites. And am never ashamed to be listening to hits off the Billboard lists. And at the same time, I’ll reserve judgement about what you are listening to, and even if I don’t like it or it doesn’t resonate with me, I can appreciate how it may work for another. I am pretty open that way.
And as an herbalist, there’s that stoke — just like those old days of calling the special orders where you match that plant to the person perfectly and their heart is happy … There’s really nothing like that feeling, and when that happens I get taken back to my times in the music store. Even if I am in my gardens or herbal apothecary.
So I’ve always said the music store gig was my most favorite *job* ever. But really, working with plants and being an herbalist is pretty much the same thing. And it’s some of the best work ever. How lucky am I?
~do what you love and your heart will sing~