I have often thought lately about this question: what is my occupation?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines an occupation as, “a job or profession.” In that case, my jobs or professions are two: I am a fitness coach and I am a filmmaker.
Why these two? Both of these come from a long personal history and many experiences. I urged myself into these professions through passionate interest and vigorous hobbyism, then turned each one–in their turn–into a paid pursuit. From there, I developed my craft–in each–over many years, great difficulties, many successes, and failures. I do not take it for granted that I am a fitness coach and a filmmaker. There are reasons, and joys, and sweat behind these two important choices.
But, I’m thinking of the term occupation more in the way of its most literal meaning: that which occupies. What act am I most often physically or mentally occupied by? As in, busy and active with doing. In this lies the clues to my true occupation.
Physically, I mostly occupy myself with a kind of vigorous living: manifold varieties of exercise; the preparation and eating of food; housework and yard work; building, crafting, or painting things; travels near or far; the organizing of other people into useful (or sometimes useless) activities; playing music; dancing; and ritualistic worship.
Mentally, my mind is occupied by thoughts of the meaning of life, the purpose of living, and how to sort out all this mess that we call human life on Earth. I would say I am mentally busy at all times with attempting to untangle the vague and hypocritical philosophy at the root of my society, to make sense of its inconsistencies, and to solve its central problems.
These true occupations are deeper, more abiding, and more important than those I do for money as a job or profession. In fact, these are the roots behind my choices of profession. I desired work that would allow the opportunities for movement and learning, and furnish the cause for deep insight and education. Fitness coaching and filmmaking both suit the lifestyle that suits me, and provide outlets for my conclusions.
In short, I am an Activist Philosopher. This is my true occupation. I actively pursue a way of thinking about the world, and then translate that way of thinking into action. This is what keeps my mind and body busy, or occupied, both day and night.
And what is the difference between this sense of an occupation and the idea of a vocation?
Again turning to Oxford, these are the definitions given for Vocation:
- “A strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.”
- “A person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.”
- “A trade or profession.”
We see here some overlap between the ideas of an occupation and a vocation, but with more emphasis placed on feelings of suitability, worthiness and dedication.
I have often thought that I am not particularly suitable to being a filmmaker. I don’t come from a wealthy background and don’t have any familial connections to the film business. I don’t desire the big sets and fancy technical equipment. I prefer the real to the make-believe. And, I don’t much like the company of actors, or professional pretenders. If I am suited to being any kind of filmmaker, it is the independent, guerrilla-style documentarian or low-budget type.
Likewise, I have often doubted my suitability as a fitness coach. I am not massive and yoked. I do not have a shelf of trophies from my athletic career. There are no photos of me posing in my skivvies while sprayed with fake tanning oil. To me, fitness is more of a private and personal affair, occupied with daily habits of discipline, but not displays of vanity or competitive drive. If I am suited to being any kind of fitness coach, it is the fringe exercise-weirdo, the DIY minimalist and iconoclast.
But, are these careers worthy? Not, if you ask the crowd, in the ways that I have defined them. A career as a big-budget action movie director would most certainly be esteemed as worthy in the eyes of my society and community, but that is not the path I have chosen. My path is looked on more pitifully as that of a starving artist. Likewise, a career as a celebrity fitness competitor and model–maybe one with his own line of nutrition supplements and exercise products–would be seen as worthy, but not my route of collecting odd bits of experience in fringe sports and rehabbing discarded exercise equipment.
However, they are worthy to me, or else I would not have pursued them. Film, video–the visual media of picture, motion, and sound–holds the power to communicate feelings and ideas across time and space. And fitness pursuits allow one to empower their self, or others, to become more than what they currently are.
But how about dedication? Yes, I am dedicated to each, precisely because they fit my activist philosophy.
As an independent, documentary filmmaker, the entire world is open to me as a field of research and experience. I may go anywhere out of mere curiosity, or with the purpose of pursuing an idea, premise, or project. All doors are opened to me to explore, inquire, and document. Physically and mentally I am unrestrained when it comes to networking, developing, and writing these films. And in the execution of actual filmmaking–operating the cameras, lights, microphones, and editing computers–I have a never-ending pursuit of new skills and techniques. I am unable to exhaust the well of learning in this field of which I am always finding new things to learn.
As a fitness coach–my second career–my horizon is always opened to broad vistas of new knowledge and activity. Firstly, I must move every day in order to access the deep learning of what it means to pursue and experience physical fitness. Next, I must always endeavor to educate myself on the workings of the human body and the vast, global, and historic human pursuits of physical culture. Most importantly, I am always challenged to learn more about human beings: how we think, act, communicate, and are motivated. As an active and philosophical being, I can never get to the bottom of fitness and coaching. There is always more to learn.
As a mark of my dedication, I have gone through various and intense experiences to improve my skill and expertise in these careers. I hope to outline these in the future when I upload my Resume and C.V. to this website. They paint a strange picture, but it begins to take a clearer shape when you see it as the life of an Activist Philosopher.