When I was younger, I really really loved watching Superman. My favourite bit wasn't when he flew all over the place saving people. My favourite bit was when he pretended to be a journalist in a shirt and tie and how nobody would ever have guessed that he was wearing full lycra under his clothes and had flying powers.
Then, years later, I met a real-life version of Superman in disguise. He was selling train tickets at the station I had to use to ride the train into town to reach my dad's office, where I worked for a year. I was in my early twenties, had no idea what to do with myself and felt so lost in the crowds of serious-looking newspaper-reading people who seemed like they knew exactly where they were going and why.
But they looked so unhappy and they got so angry if the train was late and I just knew I didn't belong. I really didn't enjoy those journeys but, oh, the one thing - and the one face - I will never forget from that year of London travel was the smile of Thomas who worked in the ticket office at the station.
He truly was one of the most radiant people I have ever encountered. He had an enormous, genuine, loving, joyful smile for everyone. Even the people who were mean to him or impatient or who seemed completely hypnotised by their life. In fact I think he smiled just a little bit wider at the people who shouted at him. Like he understood something so profound that their anger just made his knowing embed itself more deeply in him. Looking back, I would describe him an unshakeable Love warrior.
He was literally like a lighthouse in amongst a sea of supposedly 'successful' and driven people and I drank in his smile and his peace every morning with such relief. I always took a moment to greet him and he always remembered me and wished me a wonderful day - and he really meant it.
He taught me in a very real way that it is not what we do but who we are that counts. And in a world geared up with questions like 'what do you do?' and 'what do you want to do for a living?' I feel so blessed to have met him.
One day, when we meet someone, we will ask who they are rather than what they do because we will understand that it is our Being - not our Doing - that defines us.
But in the meantime, I think it is so helpful to have a Spiritual Business Card in our back pocket. Because when we know what our spiritual purpose is, it actually doesn't matter what we are doing in the world. And we can give ourselves more fully to being in service, to loving those around us, to the washing up, to the bottom-wiping, to the stapling, to the delivering of packages, to the person who wants to chat to us on the bus. And we can stay aligned with our inner purpose rather than our worldly role and the expectations of those around us who keep asking that question...
AND we can wonder what might be on everyone else's cards. Wouldn't that make every conversation, every interaction, every meeting so much more interesting? What if there are all these spiritual super-people right under our noses but we don't notice them because we have forgotten to look beneath the surface appearance? Beyond the 'what do you do?'
Here's my current version, surrounded by the tools of my current trade: Being A Mum. One of the answers that truly stumps people when they ask that question. But I say it with total confidence because I know that it's all The Path and I know how important my job is. And, in a world that often thinks I should be doing something different by now, it also helps me to be very clear what is on my spiritual business card.
What's on yours?