A Perplexing Question

I find it perplexing that humankind, especially in the USA, inevitably ask the question upon meeting someone new, “So what do you do for a living?” It seems to be almost automatic. What is almost never asked, “What are the things you ENJOY doing in your life’s journeys?”

For me, to ask about what one does to make a living, to inquire about one’s occupation (therefore assigning a preconceived label to that person), rather than to inquire what passion exists in their hearts and soul seems to me to smack of insincerity. Outside of that delightful instance where one’s occupation is their life’s passion, most occupations are, more often than not, the daily grind of 40+ hours of being just a “cog in the wheel”.

If one’s occupation is the joy and thrill of their existence, it will come out in the question I ask, “What are the things you ENJOY doing in your life’s journeys?”

When I was a professional musician, I enjoyed my profession. As a fact, I never thought of it for one minute as a profession! When I punched gaskets in a factory, not quite so much enthusiasm.

One of the most interesting people I know is an insurance underwriter.  I was fortunate not to learn of his profession until days after we had our initial discussions about music (we shared almost identical musical inspiration), film, politics, books, etc. Had I asked him about his profession first, my guess is that no matter how hard I resisted, I’d have put him into a kind of a “trick bag”- a preconceived notion of who he is. It might have been a conversation killer, depending on my mood at the moment … “Oh, an insurance underwriter? That’s nice, pleasure to meet you sir.”

Inquiring as to what manner of “label” you can assign to a person rather than letting the person open up like a flower in bloom  … it’s just not for me.

I’m not trying to be didactic; just an idea that I put in the air that I hope takes wings.



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