What I Do

Monday, January 5, 2015

When someone asks me what I do, I want to look at them with the look someone once called "knives."

I hate this question.

I've been asked this question so many times that my default inner response is a thunderous LEAVE ME ALONE.

I'm working to forge out a life for myself that's wholly my own. It's the way I was raised; the only way I know how to live. The silly discomfort in answering silly questions (that I often ask of others myself) is not the gravest consequence for living life differently, but it's become a symbol to me of what it means to exist outside, differently.

How I feel, what I want out of life isn't so different from anyone else, but in a society like ours, I'm more exposed. I don't have the shield of a simple answer to the "what do you do" question, so it's not easy to protect myself from judgement and criticism that can otherwise be silenced with a title or a job description. Almost everyone I've talked with about this, everyone with a specific and at times prestigious title, eventually confides that they're still unsure about the direction of their lives.

I've come to envy the title, the simple answer more than the position or place. The irony is that I strive for the work, eschewing the title.

A few weeks ago I stood in a field with a woman as three of her children leaned against fences, tumbled down small hills, and tried with me in vain to call in our skittish sheep. She and I stood there and watched as shoes became increasingly "muddy," and cheeks reddened from running and from the cold. I asked questions and listened and talked. About homeschooling, about children, about the llamas who heard our calls and herded the sheep toward us.

So much of what anyone does is in the undefined things. The once every couple of years things like standing in a field with a woman and her children, surrounded by trees and grass and the sounds of a busy highway. What does anybody really do?

© The Attic at Anderwood Maira Gall.