This "About Me" prompt always gives me pause. Who am I? What do I love? What moves me? How do I avoid making of myself nothing more than a list of nouns?
Where I live, the first question people ask when they meet one another is always, "What do you do?" By which, of course, they mean, "How do you earn a living? What are your accomplishments? What box should I put you into?" More charitably, perhaps, "What shall we talk about next?"
I used to be able to answer that question clearly, at least. Conveniently. I had work that paid, a job title... But then I moved to another part of the country, one where jobs are rare, and paying jobs are rarer, and I found myself home with the children... not a valued position, no matter how important. (Is it valued somewhere? Somebody please tell me that this work is valued somewhere.) I lost my answer. "I'm home with the kids," I say. And people answer, "Oh, I would have loved to have been able to do that."
It took me great effort not to say, "nothing." Sometimes, when I come home and I write in front of my computer, and nobody reads, and nobody values my work as a mother, I still find myself thinking, "Nothing," when somebody asks The Question.
"What do you do?"
Even here I find myself given pause... No title. No organization. No way to categorize myself, no credibility. Shouldn't I be doing more??? I feel that loss more than the money (even though I miss having "my own" money.) What do I do? When I got to the About Me section, I nearly deleted myself...
What do I do? I write, I think, I read. I read books to my children, and the children at the library. I do laundry, and read philosophy. I watch children's movies again and again and again. I grow vegetables, and sometimes I sell them at the farmer's market. I raise chickens, and I lose them to predators, and I raise more chickens, and I make the eggs into dinner. I try to find a way to be in the world that lets me feel like it matters that I turned up. I write for a parenting website and draw in my best understanding of the world, and the people in it. I become the centrepiece in a "snuggle pile", the youngest child as the "cherry on top." I think about matters of visibility, sustainability, agency, feminism, environmentalism, economics, science. I struggle with my own privilege and how invisible I feel nonetheless. And then I get in the mini-van and take the kids to their drama class and feel like a complete fraud, me, in my grey mini-van.
Queer activist pagan unemployed teacher physicist polyamorous sci-fi-reading white nearly-forty mother-of-three writer artist engineer ... My partner handed me a piece of paper that i wrote up nearly 6 years ago that started with "I am" at the centre. I scrawled across it in a multitude of colours, textures... nouns, adjectives, judgements. At the time I had a job, but I don't think that the job title made it on there. "What do you do?" "Oh, I'm a [insert noun here]." It doesn't seem adequate to the task.
What do I do? Seek right livelihood. Meditate. Write. Work to be a decent human being. Find the boundaries between self and other. Seek community. Get on with the art of living. Be.
What do you do? Storytelling, Ideas, People, Books, The Wild, Conversation coherence, follow through, finishing Higher Education, Feminism, Ecofeminism, Engineering education, public speaking, teaching
My Vision for the Future
I yearn for a world in which people connect with themselves and each other in non-violence. Where the systems conspire to build people up rather than tearing them down.