I just want to preface this by saying that my mom is one of the nicest people I know. It’s almost impossible to get her to speak ill of someone. Because she’s so cosmically aware of the importance of her words (I am so f**ked!), she actually always wishes that her least favorite people win the lottery and move far, far away. She’s the type of woman who was never quite a hippy, but more of a spiritual seeker. The kind of woman sells her art at art fairs and her favorite tops are made of raw silk. What I’m getting at is that I grew up with a very new age mom.
What does that mean? That means that when I was three and my brother was six, we were taken to the Transcendental Meditation center (TM, for those in the know) and we got mantras. It meant that I had meditation time before preschool. Having a new age mom means that when I had a bad day at school, we’d head over the mystical bookshop and get my astrological chart read. It means that I was intimately familiar with past life regressions, chakras and the healing powers of crystals before the age of 13. And it means knowing that when your mom sends you to her friend the masseuse that you should also expect that she will tell you about all the spirits around you.
It means that my mom is a Reiki practitioner – and she gave me the ability to give Reiki at 8 years old. This became sort of an amazing way to build confidence. When kids make fun of you in third grade (and they did), you want to be like, “I’m sorry but I turned into a superhero last week. I can heal people with my hands. So whatever.”
It means that my mom has a spiritual name. And it’s also the name my parents chose to name the wireless network at their house. Do you want to know her spiritual name? It’s Chandrika. I know!
Not surprisingly, all of this can be really confusing. ‘Cause this whole time I thought I was special – I had healing powers, I was a Swedish princess in a past life, and I can see auras around people when I squint really hard and they are backlit. But one day I started to think, ‘What if this is all bulls**t?’ I realized this at the height of my teenage angst. I was 16 and my mom took me to upstate NY visit her guru – you know the same one from Eat, Pray, Love. Why I didn’t get to go to India like Julia Roberts, I don’t know. But all the rest is the same – you have to get up at 4AM to chant for two hours in a language you don’t know, you have to do heavy lifting around this place, like washing dishes and your supposed to feel holy about it and they also give you a spiritual name. Knowing my mom’s, I refused to get one. And then the big moment arrived where I got to actually go meet the guru. My mom introduced me and then the lady didn’t say a word – and then she swatted me with a peacock feather. Rude.
It was after this experience that I started to think my mom was pretty weird. And when I went of to a small liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon and everyone was sporting patchwork pants and talking about energy, I found myself turning into a contrarian. I looked at all the dreaded tree huggers and got a radio show where I played exclusively hip-hop and a part-time job at Banana Republic. And I didn’t look back. I spent all of my college years and most of my 20s steering clear of any sort of spiritual ideas. I was a quasi-practicing Jew with a comfort in letting the unknown be just that. When discussions would come up about god, religion or the afterlife, I thought, “Who cares?!” I fully rejected all things that my mom raised me with.
But, you guys… Oooops! All that time I spent feeling like my mom was “different”, I failed to see the ways that I had turned out a lot like her. I’m not really sure when it happened, but somewhere in my late 20s – early 30s, I became a real life crazy bird. I got woo woo. I wish I could tell you that I didn’t go to an amazing workout class every week where we shout out positive affirmations (my future is bright and my actions are bold), but I do. I wish I could tell you that I didn’t write all the things I’m grateful for daily using words like universe and light beams, but I do. Most of all, I really really really wish I could tell you that I didn’t talk to a psychic EVERY WEEK. But I do. Sometimes I wonder what it is about these things that make me feel happy but at the end of the day, who cares?
The last time I went to visit my parents in Michigan, my mom had a new obsession – she’s really into the healing powers of rocks. And she had a very special rock to give me. It’s supposed promote marriage in my life (it hasn’t worked) and I took the rock from my mom and with great effort I looked her in the eye and clutched it to my heart and said, “Thanks mom, I’ll keep it near my heart.” And she reached into her shirt and pulled out a small bag from her bra, and she said “good, sweetie, that’s where I keep mine.”