I need help! After the age of about 20, it’s probably the number one question heard by every adult, and it’s a big problem! In a literal world, it has a thousand answers: I breathe, I love, I fight, I give up, I try, I just make from one day to the next, I am dying. But the one who asks this question is trying to learn about us. It’s the easiest question to try to identify someone’s interests and their daily activities – but it’s a crappy question. What they really mean is, “What do you do for money?” And every time an answer is given, we put a label on ourselves – usually a false label – that somehow tells another person something about us. Over the years, I’ve heard people answer this question with qualifiers; people begin their answer with a word or a phrase that is intended to make an excuse for how people will see us. “Well, right now…” or “Actually, …” I think this lead-off question is maybe a little deeper than intended. I believe it is perhaps our way, maybe even subconsciously, of deciding if we need to spend more time with the stranger – if what they “do” in life can be of use to us in ours. Can we change that? Probably not. Sad.
I guess I’ve been lucky in that regards. I’ve worked in some sort of federal law enforcement capacity all my life – so my answer, although totally useless, usually prompts some sort of favorable reply. And it shows people’s shallowness. I’ve never really contributed to the world, I’ve just done my best to get in the way of those who try to negatively impact it. My life is a constant reaction to other’s lives and actions. Rarely an original thought or earth-shattering personal accomplishment.
For now on, I’m going to try to change the question in my own encounters to, “What do you do for yourself?” Try it. And if it’s hard to remember, at least consider this. If a doctor, lawyer, cop and landscaper are at a party, would the landscaper feel comfortable sharing his resume? Now consider any of the other three tearing up their front yard and then leaving it crappy for three days because they have no clue what they’re doing. The surgeon needs the landscaper just like the landscaper needs the dentist and they both need the guy who shows up at the Sanitation Department every day before the sun comes up to pick up our trash. #SameTeam ; TeamMountain