I have been doing a bit of pleasure reading of late, a luxury that the constant pursuit of academic rigor does not always allow for. Giuseppe Spadafora of the Edna Lu Free Tea bus recommended “The Gift (Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World)” by Lewis Hyde. I must say, it is a fine and fitting departure from the in-depth study of Western Biomedicine that I have undertaken for the past 18 months, while saving to join the NCCAOM and take the first of 3 Acupuncture Licensing exams required in North Carolina.
Unless you are one of the strange breed that calls themselves a Licensed Acupuncturist, you wouldn’t know that after 3 or 4 years, and a considerable monetary investment made in graduate school, achieving an advanced degree in our field, there are still 3 or 4 expensive and difficult qualifying exams (depending on your state) that must be undertaken in order to practice. I daresay that a modern Acupuncturist, practicing in the USA has spent as much money, time and study in the loving pursuit of helping their fellow man overcome pathology as any other licensed physician, though we do not often see as much of a monetary return on that investment.
This is one of the reasons that I love Chinese Medicine. Acupuncturists love intellectual discourse on subjects such as etiology, pathology, strategy and treatment. Our studies never cease, even after our credentials are completed.
On Saturday, December 29th, as I pressed the “Enter” key to reveal that I had passed my first, very-hard-won qualifying exam, I found myself audibly sobbing, overcome with a mix of emotions not easily explainable. Deep gratitude was definitely one of them. It was as if the magic “Enter” key had invited me in, to a world that I had worked long and hard to prove I was worthy of entering.
It was my intention in this post, to mention each person’s name who has helped me achieve this significant milestone, but I realize now that this post would be nothing but names of teachers, family, friends, employers, and colleagues. From the kind encouragements from other Acupuncturists I have received daily in my job, to the real financial and practical assistance I was also given, I am humbled at the generosity of the human spirit. “Thank You” can never be enough, though it must be said, as inadequate as those two words seem, to my very full heart.
My next challenges are the subjects of Chinese Medical Theory and Point Location and Treatment Protocol. But just for a month, before embarking on these next steps toward licensing, I am reading about being an Artist in Hydes modern classic that folks like Johnathan Letham say is “a life changing epiphany.” My undergraduate work was in Speech and Theatre. I practiced Performance Art as Medicine for many years. It is my belief that Art is Medicine, and that Medicine should be practiced as a kind of Poetry. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbalism are just that for me. Nurturing myself as an Artist is a very important component of my Medical practice, as is nurturing the Artistic Soul of my beloved patients.
The upcoming Love Burn in Miami, Fl is the focus of my creativity at present. I am taking time to prepare Huang Di (my bus), rehearse a performance piece on the subject of Love, and gather materials and ideas for “Tea Talks”, Ceremony, and Panel Discussions on Relationship and Healing. In the spirit of the “Gift Economy”, my journey to Miami is fueled by gift. (Please private message me on Facebook or here if you would like to contribute.) It is also offered as such. This feels like a very fitting “Maiden Voyage” of Huang Di: The Yellow Emperor: A Mobile Acupuncture and Herbal First Aide Clinic.
I have been honored by being given a Theme Camp by the same name at the event. There are a crew of devoted Herbalists, Practitioners, Artists and Light Workers already forming to “get on the bus.”
As in ancient ritual, the Burning Man Culture promotes and executes the ceremony of burning effigies of Man (and Woman.) It is a collaborative, interactive, non-commodification gathering in which all participants are invited to bring their “Gifts” and circulate them. This time honored practice, according to Hyde (and many other anthropological scholars he quotes) is what keeps the “gifts” or talents of the Artist flowing. Potlatch ceremonies, gifting rituals for the hunt and fertility and ceremonies to “burn off” the old and restore the new are documented in Hydes work as essential to a healthy society.
The burning of the “Straw Man” (or the false self, created for survival in the modern world of commerce and non-gift affirming law) is central to the Burning Man Culture. This Regional Burning Man event is called The Love Burn. I journey here, to burn off the false, and renew my True Lover.
I go to Miami this month to set up a healing arts camp, serve tea, cultivate dialogue and perform personal poetry in order to distill myself down to my essence and to find the true spirit of Love.
May 2019 be the most prosperous and joyful year for you all.