This piece is a contribution to the Soaring Twenties Social Club Symposium, a monthly set-theme collaboration between STSC writers. The topic for this upcoming issue is Work.
Sorry for the late email this week. I never send these letters at the same time, though, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. This letter will be a little different than usual; I’m sharing a poem with you. I haven’t shared most of the poetry I’ve written lately because I hope to turn it into a book you will all buy. There’s a karmic sense of irony in that today’s poem is about how I don’t “work” in the traditional sense. Either way, I hope this gets you thinking about work a little differently.
What do you do? The first question, the first opportunity to reveal yourself. What do you do? Who are you? What makes you worthy of inhabiting our civil society? What do you contribute? I don’t do much of anything according to my paycheck. But what I lack in income, I make up for in brain lesions, the scars left behind from self-inflicted wounds. My body thinks it’s protecting me. It doesn’t realize it’s the enemy. What do I do? I rest. I wake up exhausted from fighting this never-ending war. I go slowly, a creature of small movements creeping across the battlefield. What is my value? I pull the quiet from the ether and weave it into this plane. I teach whoever wants to learn. I transform life into a lucid dream of possibility. My worth is in my being. My existence is a love letter written to all those who are lost, broken, and lonely. I am a song played on repeat until the lyrics come alive, knit themselves into armor to protect against the world’s expectations. What do you do? Actually, I don't care. A better question would be, how do you live? How do you breathe life into your soul? Tell me something fascinating, more beautiful than whatever pays you each week. Show me the thing that burns within you. Ask a better question.
Letters on Being is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I’ve just discovered Marisa Anderson, and I’m obsessed. Her new album is exceptional.
Hockey Twitter was fun this week.
"A better question would be,
how do you live? How do you
breathe life into your soul?" Best thing I read today! Oh that it were so.
Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and your experience, Yardena. These are important insights and challenges.
(Years and years ago I stopped asking "What do you do?" 🙂)