Preempting nearly every conversation with someone I meet the question comes up. It is inevitable. And asking this is like chartering a plane to the sun just to ask if its surface is hot. It’s pointless, it does not matter. Nonetheless, a lull in conversation leads to, “What do you do?” The meaning is universal. Perhaps asking this is the animal instinct showcasing itself as a way to judge the opponent, to see where on the pecking order each fall.
Being asked what I do is always followed with a lackadaisical response. Maybe it is that animal instinct trying to defend its superiority against attack, or more specifically, I am constructing a response that fits our cultural norm. But why is this? What I do is considered strange to most I interact with, and my answer is always met with mixed responses, depending on the individual. What I do, in this sense, my occupation, the means by which I earn dollar bills is anything but conventional to someone with a career.
The first stamp in my passport states, “Republica del Ecuador, 21 Feb 2008.” Though its roots date back earlier in history, this specific date formally represents the beginning of what I do. An alternative learning experience to figure out who I am, what constitutes planet Earth, and experiencing its gross variety would become the mission. Sigmund Freud might suggest that unconsciously I was just suppressing reality. It would later become evident that the goals set forth would shape future passions.
Active learning has always been the best way for me to absorb new ideas. Passive academia, established between kindergarten and grade 12, and beyond through college, is mostly brain development by way of sitting at a desk in front of a teacher displaying information on an overhead projector, or for those technologically adept, utilizing PowerPoint presentations, followed by tests designed for students to regurgitate learned material.
Following that model left me clueless. Understanding myself and how to be a positive contributor to society did not prove fruitful for me by these means. Upon entering University, my passions were far from being exposed. Departing Ecuador was the opening of my eyes to the world. That trip proved to be the first chiseled piece of granite in the sculptor’s efforts to craft a piece of art. Since then, what I have been doing is sacrificing social activities, forgoing dates with the opposite sex, accepting any job capable of producing moderate income and putting away that remuneration to fulfill a passion- expanding my horizon and those closely connected with me.
Ultimately what I do is enjoy life by experiencing other peoples, confronting different ideas.
What do you do?