"To be is to do"-Socrates;
"To do is to be"-Sartre;
"Do Be Do Be Do"-Sinatra;
"Yaba Daba Doo!"-Fred Flintstone
Popular graffiti in university bathrooms in the 70s.
Americans tend to define themselves by what they do for a living. "He is a plumber", or "She is a lawyer" may be common usage in other countries, but here we mean it. We become so identified with what we do for a living that when we retire or become to sick or injured to work we are lost.
I was working in a cubicle farm and I noticed an ambitious friend of mine had set up the following as her e-mail signature line:
It's what I do.
It's who I am.
I felt an actual chill when I read that. She probably thought it won her brownie points with management. It probably did. I would no more sign correspondence with that slogan than I would with "Work Makes You Free". I believe that words have power and signing every letter with the total surrender of my identity to my employer strikes me as a very unhealthy thing to do.
We all do it though...or something very much like it. It used to be very common when you wanted to know how much money someone had to ask, "How much is he worth?" In some circles it is still common usage.
Maybe it is a good idea to sit down once in a while and make a list of all that we are.
Try it. Take a good twenty minutes and make a good job of it. Don't forget to write down "lover" and all of the other things that bring you joy to do.
Now look at the list and ponder a bit on the important things that you are that really belong higher on the list than what you do to make a living.
The illusion that our job is what we are is what keeps us afraid.
Be seeing you.