"Hey how are you? My name is Jim. What's your name?"
"So Teresa, What do you do?"
Maybe its just the analytical side of my brain taking over... but it totally bugs me every time I have a conversation with someone and the first thing that someone asks me is..."What do you do?"
*Disclaimer* Now, I get that its just small talk. Don't take this blog as some type of passive aggressive way of saying I'm annoyed with you if you're guilty of asking others what they do. I hate passive aggressive and I also ask people this it all the time. Hello, I am a hypocrite. Nice to meet you. End disclaimer.
I just think that it tells a lot about how we as a culture see the people around us. When we ask them what they do, not who they are. There's something wrong with that!
What if we started asking people who they are instead of asking them what they do? Imagine the conversation that could come out of that simple question. I think it could change the world. But I also think that we are afraid of changing the world, and thats why we just stick with what's familiar. We are afraid of the messiness of humanity, so we just revert back to "what do you do?" If we really asked someone who they were and what they're all about, we'd be committing to quite a long and possibly heart-wrenching conversation. And you know, in our busy lives, do we really have time to open up that conversation? After all we have a lot of stuff to do...
We live in a success driven world. But maybe success isn't about what we do, but who we encounter when we are doing those things. Not only that, but maybe its about how we treat those people when we do encounter them. How many times do we stop to just "be" with the people in our lives? If we live in a culture that is too busy to "be" with the ones we love, than we are becoming less of human beings and more of "human doings".
We're all sons and daughters. Brothers and sisters. Friends and companions. On a journey.
I'm leaving for Spain in two weeks and I'm excited for these encounters. I'm going to make it a point to ask those that I meet, "Who are you?" ¿Quien eres tú?
4 ways to avoid being a "human doing"
1. Hang out with a baby.
I learned a lot about humanity by hanging out with my 3 month old nephew. Babies don't really do anything except for eat, sleep puke and poop with an occasional smile or burp. You wouldn't ask a baby what they do, and they really aren't defined by what they do. If you've ever made baby giggle, then you know they are worth a lot more than what they do. Appreciate the gift of life in and of itself by hanging out with a baby.
They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. When you're walking down the street, make an effort to look into people's eyes. They might not even notice. And if they do, they might think you're crazy. But look in their eyes and do a little "wondering". Wonder about who they are, where they come from, and why they were put on earth. If you really want to be a human being and not a human doing, you have to start caring about other people.
3. Ask the tough question(s).
Take a social risk and ask "who" are you? the next time you meet someone new. They'll immediately be thrown off, but maybe that's not such a bad thing. Maybe they've been waiting for someone to ask who they are for once. Deep down nobody really wants to be defined by what they do. Everyone wants to be fully known and loved for who they are.
4. Answer the tough question(s)... even if no one asks
The next time someone asks, "what do you do?" Answer with the defining qualities that make you, you! Por ejemplo.
Normal conversationalist: Hi Teresa, what do you do?
You: "Hi (insert name of normal conversationalist)! Well I suppose do my best to encourage everyone, try to smile a lot and make people feel included. Normally its a struggle, but I really believe that everyone on earth deserves to be loved and cared for so, I do my best."
You: What are you all about?
Normal conversationalist: ... *long, uncomfortable silence*
Normal conversationalist: Wow. I didn't think anyone really cared. Which is probably because when I was 7 years old... *Continues to spill out entire heart and soul to you whether you like it or not*
You: *Just became a human being*