“Likewise,” she said in the same, quick, ‘how-do-you-do’ manner.
I had already been introduced to a few dozen strangers that night, and like all the others before her I had already forgotten her name. What was different was that this tiny exchange of hellos happened just seconds before those who introduced us disappeared to talk amongst themselves. I turned to her, expecting some typical ‘strangers meeting for the first time’ idle chit-chat.
“So…” she began.
I immediately knew what she was going to ask, and dreaded the question. “What do you do?” she’ll say. I’ll tell her that I’m a computer guy, which will open the flood-gates for a ton of other questions I don’t want to answer. It’s a lousy existence, working for a living doing work you hate — because whenever you meet someone new you end up talking about shit you don’t care about.
“What do you like to do when you’re not doing what you have to do?” she finished.
The question surprised me. Not only because it wasn’t what I expected her to ask, but also because the question was quite profound. It was almost as though this unnamed girl was sharing the perfect ice breaker with me — a question that cuts through all the bullshit “let me impress you with what I do” nonsense by casually asking “Who are you really?”
Depending on when the question was asked, I may have answered that I like working on classic cars and showcasing them in parades. Or maybe I said that I like reading novels that turn into movies, and then enjoy watching the film to see what’s different. Or perhaps I said that I like writing about my personal experiences and publishing articles about them online.
Whatever I actually said that night, I know that I was anxious to share what was on my mind. I talked about what I liked to do passionately, because it was a topic that interested me. Had she asked about my day job — something I have to do — I would have been quite reluctant to talk about it.
Looking back on this, I recognize that life truly can be simplified into these two categories:
What You Like to Do is the stuff you’d do all the time if you were a billionaire, and
What You Have to Do is the stuff you do because you’re not.
(I know it’s a crude explanation — but I’m certain you know what I mean.)
Right now, I have a bunch of interests that fall under what I like to do: reading novels, writing memoirs, writing manuscripts, learning piano, learning to surf (something quite impossible in Michigan), watching movies, playing games, solving puzzles, eating delicious food, and spending time with friends.
Unfortunately, most of these things that I like to do have been pushed aside while I’ve been concentrating on what I must do: I’ve been investing a lot of hard work and long hours at my new job with the hope that my three-month review will yield a raise or promotion. Lately it seems like the list of things I like to do could be shortened to just: Sleep.
In short, please forgive the recent lack of new content on LifeReboot. My day job has been stealing my energy, and I realize it’s a lame excuse. Sacrificing my writing time to work for a living may not be what I like to do, but I believe it’s what I have to do.
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