I promise not to mention my new book in this article. Not a word about the new book. In fact, WHAT new book entitled Behind These Red Doors: Stories A Cathedral Could Tell Volume 2, available on Amazon.com? I have no idea to what you’re referring. Perhaps you’re overwrought and should read a good book. How about Behind These Red Doors: Stories A Cathedral Could Tell Volume 2. Just a thought.
But now that the secret messages have been imbedded in the text, and all the typos are part of the historic tapestry of Literature, I have more free time than usual on my hands, and I’m feeling a little panicky. We are inclined to define ourselves in Western Civilization by what we do, and the loss of structure or purpose (or in my instance, the need for repurposing) removes some of the structure to which we’re accustomed. It’s actually uncomfortable to wake up in the morning and realize you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to do to-day. It poses a zen-like question: if I have no purpose at the moment, do I still exist?
Perhaps this is one reason people keep themselves so busy—so long as they’re moving and doing something, they show proof of life. As soon as they stop—poof! they’re gone! In a way, it’s true—our inactivity encourages people to forget us; friendships and business relationships thrive on continuous and frequent interaction. Our self-identity relies on what we’re doing. A musician moved from Philadelphia to New England, returning to Philadelphia for a visit a few years later. He ran into an old acquaintance he hadn’t seen in a long time, and received this greeting: ‘I thought you were dead!’
A Franciscan missionary told me that one of the first things he noticed when he went to Papua New Guinea was that the people there asked different questions when they first meet someone. Are you married? Do you have children? Of course, as a Franciscan priest, he didn’t have much to tell them. However, it was a pleasant change not to be defined solely by his job.
It might be more interesting, if is actually necessary to do so, to be defined by our interests or non-professional activities, but it seems unlikely this would find acceptance. ‘How do you do, I’m a pipe smoker’, or ‘My name is John and I collect Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.’ It would certainly be more interesting than ‘I’m a lawyer,’ simply because everyone knows what a lawyer is and does. No one has to ask questions, and the simple answer becomes a conversation killer.
There are times when a specific identifier is important. When you view websites like About.me, often people define themselves so fluidly that you have no idea what they’re about. How does a ‘karmalogist’ make a living? What the heck is an ‘immortalist’? These titles encourage exploration and conversation, but they may also encourage people to create a title for you: ‘Nutter!’
I suppose how we identify ourselves depends on what we think other people will value. Western society, with its influence on societies around the world, is obsessed with making money. We are defined by how we make money. Perhaps by saying, ‘I’m an accountant,’ we are hoping to attract clients, ie: make more money.
I’m a person who spends his time thinking about things, asking weird questions such as ‘What is the essential difference between strength and power?’, and then writing whatever I’ve been thinking. I watch a lot of DVDs, read books, listen to ragtime music (piano only), write with a fountain pen, and drink Diet Coke by the bucket. I think you know me a lot better than if I’d said, ‘Writer.’
Okay, that’s that. Now I’m going to read. Can anyone suggest a good book?
If you enjoyed reading this, please take a look at my eBooks on Amazon.com:
Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell : http://amzn.to/1iGMFUp
Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell Vol 2: http://amzn.to/1HIXJ1D
Lives of the Ain’ts: Comedic Biographies of Directors Errant: http://amzn.to/1nPvqoc
The Inn of Souls: http://amzn.to/1lD7xjJ
See a reading of excerpts from these books by clicking on the links below:
Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell: http://bit.ly/1CwIqIN
Lives of the Ain’ts: Comedic Biographies of Directors Errant: http://bit.ly/1t8cF5X
The Inn of Souls: http://bit.ly/1x7ZzE4