What do you do?
Same as you do.
What do you do?
Well, I’m fine, thank you.
What do you do?
Man, I just mind my own business, so why don’t you kiss my ass?

— Saigon Kick

Jessica Freeman-Slade:

“What do you do?”

Of course, the question isn’t “What do you like to do?” It isn’t even “Who are you?” that grandest and most open-ended of personal inquiries. It’s the suggestion that we are, as productive human beings, always in a place where we should be doing something, and that what we do with our time is an essential expression of who we are and who we hope to be. Of course, anyone that’s worked a temp job, a data entry job, a telemarketing job, a retail job, a janitorial job, might not say that the way they make money is really who they are. Or they might feel a deep affinity with the clerking, the shoveling, the building, the frying, and declare themselves proudly for it. Because the answer to the doing question is almost always answered with an “I am” statement. I am working. I am busy. I am needed, somewhere.

On the one hand, yes. A human without actions is a vegetable, so of course we’re largely defined by what we do. Of course, when most people ask what we do, they only want to know which narrow skillset we use in the course of earning a paycheck. I work in a sufficiently manly field to impress those who are impressed by such things, and earn good enough money doing so to impress those blah blah, but I don’t take pride in either. You know what I’ve learned in the past month or so? One of the most defining qualities of who I am, one of the things that makes me feel most centered, complete, grounded and fulfilled is having the leisure to daydream. I mean, uh, meditate. Being able to let my thoughts meander for hours at a time is a large part of what powers my writing, and it complements my reading as well. When I don’t have that, I feel like less of a person. My career goal, such as it is, is to get good enough at what I do to be able to do it on autopilot while listening to music and letting my mind roam. Something tells me, though, I shouldn’t add that to my résumé.