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Month: July, 2012

What You Do Isn’t Who You Are.

On crowded flights, I inadvertently get asked this question: “So, what do you do?”

I hate it. It makes my asshole tighten up. People hear what they want to hear. Some get it. “World traveler, lover of culture, foodie, writer & book addict”, but most don’t. They tend to focus on “nude centerfold…oh, wait…isn’t that PORN?”

Europe, Canada, Great Britain, Japan and many other countries consider this question very impolite. Even if someone is a surgeon who owns a wall decorated with degrees. Asking someone what they do right when you meet them is akin to picking your nose at the dinner table. You may be greeted with an icy stare of disdain or a forced laugh to cover up the shock. And I agree with that.

Because they know that who you are as a person isn’t what you do. It’s the movies you like. What music you listen to. The hobbies you enjoy. The book you last read. The kind of food you love. The kind of workouts you do. If you have a dog or a cat…or birds. That’s who you are. Not how you earn your money.

But here in the USA, not so much. It makes me sympathize for all the garbage men, janitors and dishwashers out there who work very hard. And are great parents, love to tend their gardens and love watching funny movies.

“So, what do you do?”

On flights, where I’ll never see the person again, my answers vary.

Tampa to Philadelphia: “I’m a social media expert.”

Philly to Tampa: “I’m a horse breeder.”

Columbus to New Jersey, “I’m a quantum physicist. I’m actually on my way to CERN this evening for a meeting about the Large Hadron Collider.”

Louisville to Atlanta: “I’m a sniper.” And so on.

Because it doesn’t really matter anyway. What you DO isn’t who you ARE.

-The Muse


Missed Moments

I met a man in Japan once. He lived in China. He was slim and athletic with a strikingly handsome face, fun sense of humor and dark eyes that were almost black. He was half Mexican, half Anglo and the stuntman action film I was working on. We were put together so he could train me in some flashy martial arts for the movie, and as two of the only people there who spoke fluent English, we ended up talking quite a bit after it was done. I was very down about many things, and he showed me another way of looking ay my situations. One of which was my age….hitting thirty and still chasing a dream, wondering if I was missing out on having babies or a house of my own yet.

He said something like this: “The people who do have all that think YOUR life is far more interesting. And, age is just a number. My mom had me at age 40, I was her first child. No problems. So don’t stress.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  Live your life.”

(As the housing market collapsed a few years later and everyone I knew lost money on their homes, I was quite glad to be a renter. Ditto for not having kids. May not be for me.)

He invited me to visit his where he was currently staying in Tokyo, giving me the complicated train instructions. I was in a terrible relationship back in America that would soon end badly…but declined the invite, saying I didn’t feel well. A lie.

He was one of the most positive people I’d ever met. I left Japan and stayed in touch with him via email, but eventually, life got busy for both of us & we lost touch.
We never so much as hugged, but for many years, I thought about him.  His love of life. How much his outlook had affected me.

What IF.

I always felt that I’d missed the boat with him…meaning I think he could have been good for me, and I could have learned from him… & I promised myself not to let that happen in life again.

I recently connected with him on Facebook again. He is happily married and I am not looking for anything out there, but I got the chance to tell him how grateful I was for his advice & how it changed me. I was happy to have the opportunity to thank him and still have him as a friend.

We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we do always remember how they make us FEEL. In this case, I remembered both.