I took a quick trip to Memphis a few weekends ago. I was riding with a friend on her way to see her daughter in a senior voice recital at Rhodes College. The recital was magnificent.
I’ve known the daughter, Cameron, since not long after she was born. The photo is a stock photo, but is a perfect fit for who she was.
I remember going to eat dinner with her extended family when she was 3 years old. At daycare, Cameron had learned a piece she wanted to share with the table. Rather spontaneously, she stood in her chair at the Capital City Club, started marching in place, and sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” She concluded by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with her hand over her heart.
Her enunciation was off in some of the words, but there was no mistake what she was singing and saying. We were captivated. The protocols of “Don’t sing ‘It’s a Grand Old Flag’ during dinner in a nice restaurant” were suspended due to sheer admiration.
Cameron always liked movie musicals. Old Hollywood musicals. There’s a story that when she was in second grade, she was attending a Brownie Scout meeting and participated in an icebreaker activity that included finding someone who liked the same movie. Cameron was upset that no one knew Brigadoon or Anchors Aweigh (Gene Kelly endeavors), and she also couldn’t figure out why Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Katherine Hepburn or Cary Grant were not recognizable names.
She attended Green Gate in her early years, and when the administrators of the school decided to institute a uniform policy, one student came to mind. They thought about Cameron and how this new rule would affect her. Indeed, when Cameron found out she was going to have to wear shirts with collars, she was devastated. But the administrators had graciously included a provision that would make this change more palatable for her: they allowed three pieces of jewelry. So, each morning Cameron and her mom counted out her bauble choices, and she made it through this period of limited accessories and collared shirts.
When Cameron was 6 years old, I sat next to her while waiting for a performance of Smoke on the Mountain at First United Methodist Church. I had a notebook in my purse, and we played Hangman. Considering her age, I picked a movie clue that I thought she could guess: Ice Age. Then she picked a clue for me to guess. After I selected a few letters, I was surprised to see what she had chosen. “Is it West Side Story?” I asked. Indeed it was.
The point is, Cameron is the evidence to me that we have a purpose interwoven within us at a young age. She really hasn’t changed that much in the last 20 years. She’s just gotten better at being Cameron.
A couple of years ago, I helped a copywriting client write a career parable, The White Shirt, which makes the point that Cameron illustrates. Some of the things you were drawn to when you were very young – if you can remember and tap into that – can help you connect with a peaceful and life-giving career today.
From an early age, I was someone who tried to make sense of things. It’s as if I dropped from heaven into an unfathomable mystery, and I was given a notebook and told, “Go make sense of this.” That’s my life plan in a nutshell. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be me, but, as far as I know, I’m the best one for the job.
A good bit of the reporting on what I observed I incorporated into Your Story Shaping Blueprint. I’m grateful that I could connect concepts that were not too late to learn with the identity that was mine from the beginning. I’m also thankful to all of you who participated in the beta version. I’ve been making some tweaks and will relaunch the series early next year.
In the meantime, you might like to see this video of Cameron’s last song during her recital: https://youtu.be/DNCRay2zKbA
She’s improved just a wee bit since that time she sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag” while standing in a chair at the Capital City Club. But she still has the courage to be Cameron, and that’s a wonderful thing to see.
Enjoy your magnificent journey.
– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 41