30 April 2011

You Are What You Do

In my world, bears' world, bears are just bears. We all do the same things - we hunt for food, we eat, sleep, have little cubs and just carry on with our lives. That is why I find it quite fascinating that humans, although they are all the same species, do different things in life. Some of them are doctors, or lawyers, or builders, or plumbers, they could be anything they choose to be.

I read that in the old days, very old days, people were actually named according to their occupation, supposedly for tax collectors to be able to identify them and their families. Thus we have surnames or family names such as Mason (stone worker), Sawyer (wood cutter), Baker (bread maker), Carpenter (wood worker) and the likes.

What you do is what you are in the human world. In fact, it is almost unimaginable to know a person without attaching what he does for a living. When you are introduce to someone, you don't just remember their names or physical characteristics, you associate that person to what he does. So you have Katy who works in the bank, Peter who manages a restaurant, and so on.

The idea of what you do defining who you are is so ingrained in the human society that when someone is not working, either temporarily or permanently, that person loses his or her identity. It is not uncommon to hear retired people who became depressed because they feel "lost". Some would get deeply involved in some causes or community activities in order to feel like they established a new "self".

Imagine if all these attachments of occupation and self is gone. Imagine you being introduce to Mr. X and what he does is cook, eat, sleep, read, walk in the park, listen to music, tend to his plants and pets and cleans the house. You probably think he is a loser.

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