“So what do you do for a living?”
A common question most Americans ask when getting to know someone. We are our jobs. We are the money that we make.
Why? As a kid I would wonder why and still I ask, Why?
When studying abroad in England I realized that this idea of working to earn a living is something that is more of an American thing than a global thing. People in England had jobs like everyone else, but when it was time to take a break they took a break completely. They physically removed themselves from the work area, but they also didn’t think or talk about work.
I found it enlightening to be in a place where “What do you do for a living?” was not commonly asked to get to know someone. It was very nice.
It was even more interesting to learn that Americans truly have a hard time slowing down, and taking a full break from the work they do. (Perhaps other places too. I don’t know.) I noticed this when I got a temp job a couple years ago in Florida. The guys who would work 8 hours would sit down for their half an hour lunch break. There may have been some friendly banter, and sharing of memes on Facebook, but a fair amount of the conversations were about work. They talked about what they needed to get done after the break, what didn’t get done before the break, and maybe what someone said about one of their products. At any rate it was all conversation related to work. So they were not totally taking a break, or getting to know each other.
When I was younger I would often dream about what I loved such as art, movies, romance, music, and all things creative. These things don’t have a great job market that just anyone can walk off the street, stumble into one of these things and say “This is what I’m going to do for work” and then make enough money to survive. It’s not impossible, but it’s not a quick process either.
So it was always frustrating to grow up in a world where it seemed like making money was a contributing factor to who you are, how you survived, and something that needed to be made quickly through some kind of occupation that was mundane, and the opposite of creative. Or perhaps it had some kind of creative element, but was undeniably corporate, and business related.
As if anyone could get any kind of information about what makes you who are from the job that allows you to pay rent each month, is what I used to think as a teen. I will never understand how a job that one might get just because they needed to pay rent, or pay their bills says anything about who they are.
Perhaps it says “I’m logical, and trying to be wise so I got a job at a pet store so that I can keep my apartment.”
Or perhaps one might learn that she’s, “a responsible person” and she loves her “children” so she “got a job as a waitress”.
What I’m saying is that most jobs people get (at first or perhaps long-term) are not their dream job, therefore it will never tell you anything about their true character. Asking what job they have is just as silly as asking about what kind of car they drive, or what their parents do.
We are masters at thinking, and doing. It seems to me that most Europeans have a better balance between doing, and being. They know that their job is just one part of their life, and that they are a whole being. If they lose their job they will still be that same whole, complete being.
If ever anyone asks me about what I do for a living or what a friend does then I anticipate the conversation might go something like this:
“So what do you do for a living?”
“Oh, but…I mean…do you have job?”
“Ok…what does your friend do for a living?”
“Ok…do you want juice?”
Of course I cannot anticipate any future conversations, but I like to imagine that I throw someone off with an unexpected answer.
My fellow Americans,
This time in our lives has been difficult for many, but the Universe, or whatever you want to call the Divine, has given use a great opportunity to practice being and living, and to stop thinking. The past is over, and the future is far away, but we have right now. Let’s just live! In hindsight that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do, right? So let’s do it now.
I’m grateful for the friends I have that remind me I think too much about things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of life. I’m grateful for the reminders I’ve had this year that taking a break, or doing something I love, even if I didn’t work an 8 hour shift, or have a full day that was intense and mundane, is okay.
There are no rules. There’s only what makes sense for YOU to do in the MOMENT in order to LIVE the way that YOU WANT! So go and be!