My Transparent Onion has a friend that I’ve only hung out with a couple of times, but he, like my Transparent Onion, asks deep, probing questions disguised as random thoughts. Of course, his question, awkwardly answered, really did hit me like a ton of bricks – many hours later. I will get to The Question momentarily.
The first time I met him we were watching TV with the Transparent Onion and his lovely bride-to-be after a birthday dinner. My Transparent Onion is addicted to various things: Lost, Texas Aggie sports, other various sports featuring teams that do not wear maroon and white, Ultimate Frisbee, really good music, coffee (his Nana recently enabled him with a coffee grinder the size of a garbage compactor), and, among other things, BBC America’s Planet Earth.
After we finished a section of Planet Earth, this lanky blonde sits up from where he had unfolded on the floor and asks, “So, what do you do to change the world every day?”
Inside, my reaction was identical to the first time the Transparent Onion asked me one of his deeply probing randomly-disquised questions, “Um…like…do you know me?!” My answer meandered because one, I was not expecting the question (but I guess I should. My Transparent Onion rolls with some pretty deep and pondering peeps), and two, if you could sum up what I do for a living it’s making order from chaos, which doesn’t sound very exciting or fulfilling. If you peel away the layers of any job I’ve had, though, that phrase is the most basic way to describe my work skill set, and it’s easier than trying to describe what I do without people pulling from their file of perceived notions of what my job actually is.
Of course, I went home that night and couldn’t get that question off my mind. When it comes down to it, what I do (at least for a living) really does nothing to change the world – at least I don’t see it that way.
There are things I do (writing, photography, friendship and other unquantifiables) that perhaps, at the very least, bring joy or a new view or perspective to the world, but my work revolves around none of these things. After I was asked The Question, I see how out of balance this is (and I will continue to work on reversing that).
Most of the time I feel like a star-shaped peg trying to find the place I fit while walking through a maze of round and square holes, and that includes my life outside work. One day, I will find that star-shaped hole and I will fit in it so naturally I will wonder how on earth I kept missing it.
What I’ve finally decided is that it’s not necessarily what I do that changes the world, it’s who I am and Whose I am that is the starting point of whether or not I am a world changer. That realization is a difficult pill to swallow when I get reminded every once in a while that I’m not always the best advertisement of God.
I am certain about one thing pertaining to my answer to The Question – it needs to be a different one. First of all, I need to be in the mindset of changing the world every day, even if the world, for that moment, is as big as a cubicle or a conference room, or perhaps even someone’s living room, car or couch. Second, I need to empower myself to utilize the skills that really are my world changers.
I need to be better prepared to answer questions like The Question. Dang those Bro Onions and their brothers from… different gardens… These young men keep me on my toes, which, I guess, in many ways, changes my world one day at a time.
I’m working on that different answer now. Thanks for that world changing question.