Wendell Barry wrote a great book of essays with the same name as this little blog musing. “What are people for?” That particular essay talks about the movement of people from the farms to the cities, and the unemployment that exists in the cities. Certainly every person needs some kind of occupation to be able to live in a society in an honest way. It doesn’t really matter if it is mother, lawyer, butcher, or Indian Chief—we all need to do SOMETHING to justify our existence.
A friend of mine (Carol) told me about the unhappiness her mother experienced as she increasingly lost the ability to be productive. Carol thought of all kinds of things her mother could do—tie the ends of fleece quilts, knit, cover hangers—but in the end there was very little she could do, and it was excruciating for her.
So what should I be doing? Sometimes I wonder why I ever started working, because if I were home I could be choosing the type of work I do all day long. My closets could be orderly. My photos could all be arranged in books. I could make gourmet meals. I could go to Scrabble tournaments (and have time to study, so I could win more!) Why did I trade all that for a 12-month 8 to 5 job when I don’t really even need the money any more? What am I for?