How Do You Do?

What do you do? This is the question. The inevitable, age-old question. You always know when it is coming too. You meet someone new, you exchange names, maybe you ask where the person is from, and then, without fail, someone asks it.

So, what do you do?

For some people, the question skips off them like a stone on the surface of a pond.

“Oh, I am a teacher,”

“I work in finance.”

“I’m a marketing consultant for X company,” etc, etc. The replies come easy like Sunday morning.

But, for others, the approach of this question impends like a shark fin on the horizon. The Jaws theme song might as well be playing in the background.

Duh, dum. Duh, dum.

The question bites and the person is left to tread water, struggling to come up with an acceptable response.

Currently, I fall into the second category of people.

I never blame anyone for asking the question because, when the tables are turned, I find myself inquiring the same thing (much to my frustration). The question usually stems from innocent curiosity, but it can be aggravating nonetheless, especially if what you do isn’t so easy to define, if a tidy label doesn’t exist for the activities that comprise your day-to-day existence. It is usually not sufficient to say to someone, “I live.” People don’t know what to do with that.

“Hmm so you live,” they think, “Great, but what does that tell me?”

For better or worse, we want to fit everyone into a box, not necessarily to confine them or to judge them. Maybe the box is spacious, has WIFI and brand new hardwood floors. Maybe it comes with a nice city view and a washer/dryer hookup. But it is a box just the same. Without a parameter for defining your existence, people are left with too much uncertainty. They cannot figure you out or understand where you’re coming from. Or at least this is what they have been conditioned to think.

The main problem with this form of definition is that the doing is always in terms of your career. This is given greater significance over the other areas of life. No one means what do you do with your friendships? What do you do with your physical and mental health? What do you do with your romantic life? No, our sense of doing is intimately connected with our job. Subsequently, the weight of our actions is given a monetary value. What we do comes with a price tag. It becomes quantifiable.

Don’t misunderstand me, nothing is wrong with money, and I don’t believe most people ask what you do with the intention of slapping a dollar sign on your forehead. But inherent in the “what do you do?” question is a value of the tangible. We first try to understand someone through the concrete aspects of their natural world. We no longer know how to relate to strangers through their humanity first and their place in society second. The intangible feels too shapeless to touch.

But, like anything in life, a change only requires a shift in perspective. Maybe it is not so important how you respond to the unavoidable, “what do you do?” Maybe it is wiser to consider how it is you feel about whatever it is you’re doing.

When we judge our days by the connections we make and the relationships we develop, the question of what we do seems less important. We gain clarity about the real impact of our actions and can appreciate the oneness of our existence. The what falls by the wayside and the how stands center.

Like a tree losing its leaves so that we are better able to see its branches, our paradigm shifts with the change of a word.

Sensky_Oneness_connected_spirituality-Collage 1

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