Just in case you forget.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust
The weather wasn't ideal that afternoon at the Portland Saturday Market. The vendors' tents sagged at the corners, weighed down by the incredible amount of rainfall. My white sneakers became muddy sponges on my feet from all the puddles I couldn't avoid.
Still, it was worth the trip because I got to meet a sage bracelet maker.
The first thing I noticed about his booth was the neat rows of simple copper and brass cuffs. Then I saw that he offered free engraving, up to ten characters. Before too long, the vendor was asking what I wanted mine to say.
"Well, that's the thing," I replied, sheepishly, "I don't know."
I knew I wanted a phrase or a word that would remind me of what matters most — something uplifting, something with gravity. I live and breathe words all day, but at the moment, I couldn't think of a single good possibility.
I looked up at Pete hopefully, thinking maybe he could help. He stared back at me quietly as big drips fell from the edge of the pop-up tent and landed on his backside.
"What's your name?" the bracelet maker asked, breaking the silence. And as soon as he heard the answer, he declared it a winner. R-u-m-i it would be. "This way," he added, "if you ever forget your name, you just have to look at your wrist."
The finished piece was golden, gleaming, and fit my unusually small wrist just so. But I couldn't help but feel a little letdown. Having my first name engraved just seemed so…boring.
That night I woke up at 3 a.m. with a burn inside my chest. My mind started playing back the scene at the market. What did he mean if I forget my name? Was that an insult? And why on earth did it have to be so hard for me to find one good-and-true word?
Then, I realized something.
Back at the booth, I'd told the vendor that as a little girl, I used to get ID bracelets from school. I loved them. Wearing those bracelets made me feel safe. I liked knowing that if for some strange reason, I ended up in a place far from home, the information engraved on it would help me find my way back.
Sometimes I'd run my finger back and forth over the letters that formed by name. Whenever I did that, I felt entranced. My name was no longer just a label, but also a unique physical sensation that caused my spine to tingle.
I'd forgotten all about this. In a way, I had forgotten my name. I'd forgotten the tingling I felt at recognizing I was a unique being. Seeing R-u-m-i engraved on a bracelet again was a way back home to that wonder and curiosity.
And so, as it turns out, that man was spot-on.
What could matter more than knowing who you truly are?
Maybe for you, it's not a bracelet with your name on it. Whatever it is, if you have something that reminds you of who you were before the world told you who to be, please keep it close. And if you don't have that kind of something now, maybe sometime soon, you'll wear or hang it as a reminder.
Because, without meaning to, just in the process of growing up, most of us have ended up in strange places far, far away.
So let's all find a little something that'll turn on our inner compasses, and guide us back to the place where our hearts, souls, and bodies feel at home.