Working Your Self-protrait

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.”

Samuel Butler one-ups the you-are-what-you-eat crowd, with his you-are-what-you-do idea.  Or at least, our portraits are what we do. But are these our most accurate portraits? Or are there other things, besides work, that better define us? That draw sharper lines? That paint clearer colors?

Abraham Harold Maslow came up with the term “self-actualization”.  He said, essentially that a painter has to paint.  That a cook has to cook.  That a pilot has to fly.  That we are what we do, that we are driven to do what we do.  But is “what we do” our careers?  Or is what we do the rest of the stuff?

I am a hiker, I must hike.  Well, I wish I could hike a lot more than I do, but I think that description defines me better than what I do for a living.  Is Samuel Butler’s “every man’s work” necessarily what he does for a living?  Maybe in a majority of cases it is.  Which is a sad statement.  Or maybe it is a happy statement, if it means people are doing what they really love.

What do you think?