Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hello, My name is _______ and I delight in ______.

“People in the United States define themselves by their work, says [a man from the Netherlands], who is self employed. ‘Europeans define themselves by hobbies and other things. Work is just a means.’... At parties in the US, he says, the first question is, ‘What do you do?’ In the Netherlands, the opening question is, ‘Where have you been on vacation?’ or ‘Where are you going on vacation?’”
Where I rest and what I do for pleasure reveals more about me than what I do "to pay the bills." I must derive my identity not from what I do, but from who I am. I discover who I am by listening to the voices of my community and paying attention to what brings me delight and causes life to flourish around me. My name must be separate from my utility- my name must come from Love.
Quote from Marilyn Gardner, "The Ascent of Hours on the Job," Christian Science Monitor 97, no. 110 (2005).


pedro said...

Funny, I find myself demurring every time someone asks me this question. When I tell some one what I do, I downplay it. And then I launch into telling them why we moved to NE Mpls., because that's what I'm really about.

And then there's the fact that I hate my job. What would the person asking infer if I immediately launched into a tirade - that I hate myself? Because I don't.

Jarrod said...

Dude. Thanks for this. I was just talking this through with Joshua at dinner.

It seems as I get older it is becoming more and more difficult to define myself by something other than vocation. Especially without a model to look towards. My parents, in-laws, and friends all have very directive, definitive careers. Not this guy.

Anyways, thank you. And I love that you love the signage. People in the city LOVE it. We have had a ton of great feedback.

Megan said...

But, in a way, this mentality represents something of a coping mechanism (an understandable one, but one nonetheless): who we are IS, in a lot of ways what we do, but 'the world' has caused this great divorce by demanding that we pay for things that are basic human rights: water, shelter, food. (Only one of the reasons why Paul says that "the love of money is the root of all evil" is because money is a way of "providing for ourselves, instead of allowing and accepting God as provider, which was The Intention From the Garden). But, if you say that you must derive who are from things other than what you do, you have an unanswerable question. We say God is Love - but how do we know this? Because God acts lovingly, God acts in a loving way: God DOES (both in the verbal and the affirmative) love. Our culture, our world, has forced us to get jobs we don't like so we can "make a living", but that doesn't mean that we weren't intended by our Creator to derive at least some of our "our-ness" from what we do: Adam's "job" was to name the animals and till the Garden. It doesn't say anything about Adam's hobbies or interests in the Garden - which is not to say that he had none or that God didn't care about them, but that what Adam "did" is a HUGE part of who Adam was.

elnellis said...

I hear ya, M. Yet, I think being and action are both core to identity- where i was coming from with this is a critique of industrialized societies that offer us identities based only upon our usefulness to the industrial vision. When we define ourselves as workers (rather than something else like "Beloved") then you have societies like ours in which people are disposable and we have department names like "human resources"... said with tongue in cheek. But yes, in regards to your comment- i believe that action and being are intertwined and inform each other. What Adam "did" flowed out of how he was "called" which informed what he "did" which... etc.