Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflecting on "What I do"

I read a post called "A Living vs. A life" by Allison Rivers and it got me to reflect.
Yesterday, in a class I'm taking, I was asked "what do you do?" and I replied:

"I teach Kindergarten in a public school, and I coordinate professional development at a private non-profit preschool, and I work with a non-profit that helps at-risk-youth through expressive arts, and I write, I act with a community theater group, and I care for a husband and 20 year old son (and any number of other people who adopt us from time to time) and two dogs. And I am the lead singer for a rock & blues band, and I also sing in an acoustic duet group, and I do the student thing too. I wear a lot of hats"

Absolutely fascinating that the only thing I identified with in the "I am a __" was not what I make my living doing, and not what I aspire to make my living doing. Singing is something I think of differently. And, as a matter of fact, I refuse to take my cut when the band gets paid to play out - I contribute my share back to the group for maintaining equipment. And yet I list singing as if it were my identity.

Don't get me wrong, I love to teach. I love to write. I love all the things I do - or I simply wouldn't do them. I'm just that self-indulgent. But singing is different. I don't really control it, I just let it out. Teaching children I do because I love to, but I do it with forethought and deliberateness. Singing - not so much. I open my mouth and let emotion run past my vocal chords.

So, consider this chart I recently modified from the work of +Aristotle Bancale. The original conversation had to do with how to choose a career path, but three circles didn't leave room for how some choices would feel compared to others, so this became about finding your purpose and making a living at it.

I have no doubt that teaching Kindergarten is my bliss.  I think that all my work in expressive arts, from writing to drumming to acting to working with kids on any of these, is where I find fulfillment or contentment.

It seems that I identify - "I am"- with my passion. And though it could move to that area of satisfaction if I were to accept pay for it, I resist that so that I may keep it a passion. I think that somewhere, deep down, I fear that it would move from satisfaction to comfort and it would no longer be what I love. 

 If I allow "what the world will pay for" to enter the equation, I will be reduced to singing what will sell, in a way that it will sell, and I would lose what I love most about singing... that it has nothing to do with my mind or my thoughts - just with the feelings in my gut and the gift (as Pavoritti described it) of a golden throat.

I didn't realize any of that till I heard myself describe what I do. Fascinating.

What do you do?