What it’s like to do what someone else does?

What’s it like to be a rock star, the President, the criminal, the scientist, the spy, the addict, the mother, the etymologist the homeless?

I don’t know. I do kind of know what it is like to do what I do. It’s a bit complicated, but in a way I like, but maybe I can explain it to you. I have four vocations —  at once. I know the inside and out of a quadratic profession.

I am a thinker-writer-teacher-pastor, and I like that; I especially like the bleed between the four. I like the blood and guts and danger in the mix, and the safety in it too — swords, advances, battles, salves, bandages and medicines.

As a thinker I sit a lot and brood. I chew the conceptual cud.

Then I write. As a thinker-writer I become Adam, exploring Eden. I become Aristotle, sorting out the creation. I’m Linnaeus. I hunt for new species. I find little thought beasties. I name them. I tend to them with adjectives, feed them synonyms and poke them a bit with rhetorical devices. I classify the little lovelies, and groupify them.

I pick, sort and stackify words, sentences, larger units. At first, it turns out badly. Then I move them, again, again and again until I better like the ways the word-thoughts line up — just right, like school children at a classroom door.

Then I pat them on the heads, if they please me, and press “Publish.” Then people read them — a few do.

That’s a little bit what it’s like to be a thinker and a writer. Add eye strain, rejection and insecurity and you are getting there.

But it’s not like that. It’s never that clean.

Then, when I am the teacher, I throw the words I’ve discovered as a thinker and writer out of my mouth out into an open spaces with people in them. Then I’m like a Plato, Jesus, Pascal or perhaps Thoreau — or perhaps not. Its interesting what happens then. The ideas I send out scatter.

Written words hold their place a bit and shake, but spoken words run more crazy, like bottle rockets.

As the teacherly words come out of my mouth, they tangle up with the all the words that have ever been said before and with all the words extant in whoever is listening to me. Then my precious little word stacks bounce around inside their heads.

Then just for fun and to establish rapport, I may swing a verbal right jab or linguistic left hook or a kick in the funny bone or what ever comes to mind to try to get to the students. The goal is to get to them — fast and hard.

Sometimes my teaching words stick in people, like spears, and savage what they think, and sometimes the words I speak knock people sideways and they head off in a new direction. That’s kind of cool.

That happens less than you’d think. And then there are the weird things that happen to teachers. Sometimes the ideas I’ve delivered change shapes right in the air, right between me and the listeners, and magically becomes something I didn’t even say.

Then people compliment me or criticize me for telling them things the very stuff they packed into the room with them. It can get interesting. Sometimes it turns out great! I’ve gotten credit for many ideas that other people invented while I was talking. It’s one of the perks of the teacher — bogus credit.

That’s a bit of what it’s like to be a teacher. But not much.

And when I am a pastor my vocations kind of all combine. A pastor, as I understand it is a leader. He is a good thinker and writer and teacher who is taking people place — mostly toward God.

As a pastor, I lead a lot. That’s what I do. I’m not sure what other pastors do, but this is what I do. I lead other people into who God meant for them to be, and I lead places into what God meant for them to become, hopefully. That’s the medicine in what I do.

To do this I listen a lot, to other people’s words and to reality, and to my honed sense of what’s good and what is not, and I try to listen closely to God.

As I listen, I look for a pattern, a sense of things, a drift, a needed next step, a forming personality, a set of emotions that need validation and for a new word or concept. Often I listen through other people, listening hard for the thinker, writer, teacher and pastor within them. Then I help them explore and discover the medicine within the next clear step.

It’s my opinion that people trying to follow God often have a sense of what’s needed next, especially if someone is there to listen, challenge and affirm what they think they are hearing.

The writer, the teacher the pastor as I experience them are really the same thing. These professions are in interaction with each other and with a kind of deep looking, inside and out.

This is just a little bit like what it’s like to do what I do.

I love it!

If you did it, or anything even vaguely like it, you would like it too.

  1. Marilynn Calderon says:

    I love the idea of thought beasties! What a mind, it’s a pleasure to read these posts. It’s like having a rich meal. I sent one of the posts to a friend who describes herself as a buddhist christian. She absolutely loves reading these. she said on this one it made her laugh and cry. Thank you for your beautiful thought beasties put into wonderful words that reach out and grab our imaginations and propel us on our journey to God and our destiny.Love,Marilynn

    Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 18:56:31 +0000 To: marcal1941@hotmail.com

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