no one knows my name


gillian welch sings a song that i love to play and sing on my guitar...the lyrics "ain't one soul in the whole world knows my name" have been the theme of my thoughts lately. yes, many people know my name, Ann Marie, but in a way no one seems to truly know my name. let me explain.

by now, all of you have encountered the discussion about how people in our culture define themselves: by what they do rather than what they are. the first question people ask you is, "what is your name" which is immediately followed by "what do you do?" in our society, it is very important to do something that is recognizable: Accountant, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Lawyer, Project Manager, Administrative Assistant, Stay-at-home Mom, Teacher, Writer, etc.

Now, back to the name thing. When you meet someone, or someone meets you, names are rarely remembered, but we always remember what he/she does. "Oh, remember that photographer we met?" or "what was it that lawyer was telling us at so-and-so's house?" Your job becomes your name: how you are identified.

So this is why no one knows my name (and I am talking about my job-name). I want to study Ayurveda and practice it. But I have had some serious doubts about this. Why is it that I doubt it when I know it is the job I most want and would be the most successful at? It will be a job that will allow me incredible flexibility: being my own boss, helping people heal, allowing time to continue my passion for politics, history, and writing...and eventually allowing time for a family. It's perfect. But I fight it. Why?

I become very uncomfortable when people ask me what it is I will be studying in graduate school (and I have to make sure to call it "graduate school" because that makes it sound "legit"). That's what I'm worried about: it sounds like I am going to a fake school studying something that has no value in academia or in most people's minds. People don't know my name because people don't know what Ayurveda is. So how can people remember me? How can people define me if they don't know what I do?

I tried to tell a room full of very serious academic students about ayurveda. Sure, they were kind and listened. But I spent half of my time making excuses about what I love, saying things like, "well, it works for me, but you don't have to believe me"--just so they wouldn't think I was crazy when I told them about how my daily anxiety/nausea attacks disappeared when I took up a mantra pills, no doctor, no psychologist. Then I tell them about other people who have healed from very complicated diseases without pills, without this point I feel like a wholistic "quack." I can't blame them for thinking I've lost my mind. I think I've lost my mind most of the time.

I want to be part of two worlds: academia and spiritual. My academic friends often don't understand the spiritual, and so it is the other way round too. I want my academic self involved in my Ayurveda self, and the other way round too. Eastern thought meets Western thought. It's a tension that I believe brings balance. And so I could go on and on.

So, as I move forward to get my MA in Ayurveda, I am coming to terms with the fact that many people will never know my name. And if they do know my name, they might not believe in my name and will most likely think that my name is a hoax (I don't blame them...the "holistic" world is full of them). I thank Gillian for the last verse of her song...which will help me to see my name in the sky, even if other people never look up to see it.

Ain’t one soul in the whole world knows my name
But I’ll see it by and by cause it’s written up in the sky
Ain’t one soul in the whole world knows my name

photo by me. march 2009. used this one before, but i like it very much indeed.


Natalie said...

I have never heard of Ayurveda but I clicked on your link and it sounds very interesting. I am learning to be more open to holistic and natural forms of health. I have been making a lot of changes in my life style and have seen amazing results in my overall health and wellness. I would love to learn more about what you will be doing. I know what you mean about feeling like a quack. My family is very big believers in western medicine and I believe it is good too. I also believe that all good knowlege comes from God and our bodies are so amazing, there are many ways our body can help itself if we take care of it. Anyway, sorry to ramble on. Good luck with everything.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I think that sounds amazing. Justin and I have been traveling through Nepal and India and Ayurveda is huge here. I believe in what you are doing and hope that you carve your path regardless of what others think. You are an incredible soul!