Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cliff-Jumping Shaman-in-Training: An Interview with Megan Wright

"I like to help people": Meg Wright looks into our soul.

Megan Wright is a sophomore who used to go to Saint Rose and now attends University of Vermont in Burlington. I caught up to her on a rare visit to Albany and sat her down to ask about Vermont, hippie stuff, and her studying to become a holistic healer. Yep, that’s right. A Shaman.--Teresa Farrell

So, OK. My Spanish teacher in high school told me I couldn’t apply to any schools in Vermont because ‘bad things’ would happen. I think he meant that I would turn into a hippie. And be on hardcore drugs. But to be fair, nobody's said anything about drugs in this conversation. 

But there are a couple things I’m wondering about. Like how safe do you feel there? And I know you grew up in Virginia, really rural and everything, so just give me a sense, I guess, a comparison of the three?
Well, wow, I could definitely draw more similarities between my home state Virginia and Vermont. As a matter of fact, when I was considering Vermont for transfer over the summer, many people who came through my place of work--a resort in the hills of Virginia--remarked on how similar the mountains and the landscape are, and I would have to agree. And I do feel safe here.

I guess Burlington is the perfect combination of city culture with country vibes and views.

Ok. So I know at least while you were at Saint Rose, you used to be an English major, and music major, which are both pretty creative things. So why did you change to psych? I don’t follow.
 I’m starting to differentiate between my hobbies and potential careers. For me psych was the next logical choice.

Since a young age I've been that person who everyone finds easy to confide in. I feel that I am empathetic and sympathetic and I can offer insight to situations. But the main driving factor of my choice is my desire to help people find their releases.

That’s awesome. So, umm. Do you remember the first time someone did that for you? Like, the first time someone came up to you and was, like, You’re the only person I can tell this to? You don’t have to tell me who it was.
You know I've heard that phrase a surprising amount of times, "I haven't told this to many people," or "You're the only one I can tell this to." I don't remember honestly who the first person was, but the most recent was my friend Kayla.

Cool. So how about this whole therapy thing, the whole holistic medicine business? I know you’re into that, but I’m wondering if you can explain why, cause I know I mean it’s not every day that you go to study psych for the sake of being a holistic healer.
I've always been interested in herbs and their medicinal properties. Did you know most chemical prescriptions have a basis in some herbal counterpart? And when I decided on psych as a major, it was only natural--pun intended [chuckle] to combine the two. [Gets serious again.]

So many people today are dependent on dangerous medications, but with herbs and other alternative healing methods, they can be treated safely and sometimes more effectively.

Right on! I know, I remember once being sick—I was always sick living in the dorms, like once my roommate had pink eye and the stomach bug at the same time and I couldn't escape--but you had this whole arsenal of herbal stuff that you wanted me to try for it. And I never would, but that’s not your fault, I’m just a skeptic. So what is it exactly that you want to do? Is this actually, like, being the Shaman in a tribe sort of thing?!
[Laughs.] Not quite. I am looking into a much more professional setting, but relaxed at the same time. I would like to own a co-op or sorts with a partner, with a sort of "take care of the mind, by taking care of the body" motto. A combined gym, massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, herbalist place.

So is that like a health spa?
Very similar.

Sweet. So ok, now, I know you go to school in Vermont for this, which is pretty perfect. So tell me a story! What was your first adventure there?
Cliff jumping off of red rocks in Lake Champlain. It was exhilarating and one of the most daring exploits I've had in a long while. I felt like such a daredevil.

Oh my God, I love cliff jumping. I used to go up at my camp in the summer, technically I guess we were in Canada so we weren’t supposed to, in case anything happened, but usually it didn’t except once I almost died cause I slipped when I got up on the rocks. They were pretty high up but not far enough out, so you had to jump and I just didn’t, I failed to make it work at all. Everyone was so pissed. I almost got them all in trouble I guess. We were like fifteen though, who cares! But tell me the whole story. I want to hear it. Who were you with?
I actually went with my room mate and her boyfriend and his roommate.

Yeah? I think that’s one of those things everyone should do. At least once. It’s awesome, you’re so right. Is that what you guys do in Vermont? All this cool crazy adrenaline stuff? I’m jealous. Seriously, do you?
During the summer it's much more rampant, a need for thrills. It's as common as any other place steeped in the outdoors. Being active is very important to Burlington lifestyle, but during the winter, unless you do snow sports, you tend to hibernate and relax a bit.

I'm so jealous. So do you go out and get crazy in the warm weather? Like what do you do? For example?
[Laughs.] Cliff jumping was the most exciting; I've taken up long boarding as well and just enjoying the scenery, sitting on the docks on Champlain, touring downtown and Church Street. It’s a beautiful place to be.

Oh! Church Street, I've heard about it!! Pretend we’re there and be my tour guide. What’s good at Church Street?
Well, Church Street is easy to discern from the other downtown streets. It’s marked off so cars can never drive down it, and it’s paved with bricks. All the shops are quaint stores, and most of them locally owned, as is the Vermont style. I recommend sticking to the outdoor shops. And in the summer, stalls and vendors come out. It's really like a cultural flea market in the 21st century. And it all leads down to the waterfront.

Sounds awesome! So I have to ask this, cause we all know this is Vermont, ok. So are there hippies all over? Does it match the stereotype?
Yes [Laughs] It certainly does. [Begins to recite passage that she wrote about Burlington] Burlington is a town of educated, health-nut hippies. A town that cares about global warming and recycling anything they can get their hands on and some things they can’t. And what better place to camp than the majestic peaks of the Green Mountains or the encompassing Adirondacks cupping the shores of Lake Champlain?

You should write travel literature.

Seriously--you've got me thinking about transferring. How’s the weather up there? I can’t deal with too much snow.

Actually, up until after winter break, I was feeling overly confident about handling the winters here. It seemed relatively mild and about the same intensity as what I had experienced in Albany. Then we got a cold spell that lasted for weeks—the kind that sinks into your bones and never leaves. Since then we have had a few warm days, but that icy bitter cold is never too far behind.

Ew. Sorry, I guess I’ll pass on that. Well, Meg, it was great catching up with you! Totally wish you the best with this whole Shaman thing, too. And, legit, sign me up when you open a place. I have ridiculous knots in my shoulders.
Great talking to you too, Teresa! Come visit me sometime. Like you always say you will.

Okay. Just not when it’s 30 below.