Flowing like a river

I went to a party last night.

A really amazing gathering of really awesome people. At a beautiful house on a lake.

I walked in and a friend hugged me and said, “I’m so glad you came.”

As if to say, “I’m glad you came in spite of everything going on, in spite of the fact you have no income and we’d all totally get it if you wanted to shut yourself into your room and hide under the covers for a while. We’d all totally understand.”

And I know she meant it. I know everyone would.

But that doesn’t seem like a very productive use of my time, does it?

So I went to the party and I met lots of new people. I ate really amazing food and drank a couple glasses of free wine and heard absolutely fantastic live music. Guys with guitars and voices like butter. Really, I can’t think of a better night out.

It was, though, the first time I’ve been asked, “So what do you do?” and I didn’t have an answer.

“I’m the editor of a website for ….” Nope. No, I’m not. Not that anymore.

I answered honestly. I told them I’m a writer and an editor. I told them about this blog. I told them I can do social media and a little marketing and event planning.

I told them I’m a mom.

I told them I’m that guy over there’s girlfriend.

I told them I have no clue what comes next.

It felt weird.ย For the first time in my life, I haven’t had a career that helps define me. I haven’t had a quick, confident answer to this is what I do and I’m proud of it.

Isn’t it funny how we like to label things? How classifying people into a career or profession makes us somehow feel better, makes us more comfortable with the order of things, with the balance of power, with the way society functions?

It’s as if the what-do-you-do question helps us understand people better. But really, I’m not sure it does.

I was the editor of a niche website for moms, yes. But I was also a lot more than that. Just like I’m a lot more than a mother. I get to be all sorts of things! Huh. Pretty cool how that works.

I met two women last night who don’t like their jobs. One was an English literature major working as an operations manager for some company. Not related to her major at all and also not really what she wants to be doing. But change is hard, we agreed.

Yes, it is.

But it’s also what keeps this world going round. This crazy, beautiful life flowing like a river.

I’ve decided, at least for the moment, to just trust in the nature of things, to put faith in … well, faith.

Ha. And see where that takes us.


18 thoughts on “Flowing like a river

  1. I think it is very liberating and freeing to not have to define yourself through a job title. I much prefer to focus on a person’s conversation skills instead of “what do you do” when getting to know someone.

    You are a fun character, full of love, with wonderful tales to share with everyone you meet. Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow. I am so looking forward to seeing the various destinations that fate takes you on during this journey!


  2. I am sure this will come as no surprise to you, but Cullen and I have somewhat banned the question “what do you do”. Hopefully our lives are so much more than the way we make our money. Cheers to you sweet friend.


    • Yes, they are so much more than that. Of course, they are. But when you are someone who has followed that traditional path, you know done everything you were “supposed” to do for so long, I think it is a hard mindset to break. Or maybe not so hard. Just a transition.

      I am OK with this. I know we will be OK!


  3. I remember when I left my job of 21 years, and started getting asked that question. I starting explaining what I used to be, not what I currently was…I felt like an undefined person without a job…so not true. I was lots of different things, but couldn’t find a way to say that. I’m convinced we land where we land, and for very good reason. It takes time to connect the dots….you are in the middle of a great transition.


  4. Thanks for sharing your discovery. I come from the era where jobs first were the defining factor in our lives. I have many friends who do not know who they are now that they are retired or have lost their jobs. Your discovery is a major find for anyone and I know that you will find it nourishing as you continue to discover the depth of who you are. I am still in this process at 68 years old. Blessings!


  5. Out of the blue, you popped into my thoughts. I went to your former employer’s website, and I was shocked that you weren’t there. In my opinion, you were the only real, good, true thing about that place. I went to your previous blog, which then led me to find you here. I’ve always admired your ability to turn your thoughts into words that were so easy to read, so open and honest. I can absolutely relate to the loss of job/title/career as a temporary identity crisis, but I know this is another opportunity for you to make incredible things happen. You are, and have always been so much more that what you got credit for.


  6. I came across this today and thought of you. This is taken from a retired USAF Colonel and current National Park Service Chief of Interpretation on leadership and expectations: “My duty descriptions of “HUSBAND” and “FATHER” are forever and not optional. One day I will leave the service and from that point in time, nobody but me will care what rank or position I held. If my wife and daughter don’t rush to greet me when I get home because I quit being fun years ago… I squandered my life. Good work is measured in results…not the hours clocked on the job. Work hard, but work smart–know when to go full-burner and when to operate at cruising speed.”

    Do not define yourself by your job, define yourself by who you are.


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